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News Section Icon Published 29/04/2021

101 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum have called for a phaseout of cages in animal farming.

In a letter to the European Commission, the MEPs say they join with the 1.4 million people in all EU member states who signed the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’.

They sent the letter following a 15 April European Parliament hearing at which the Initiative received overwhelming support from MEPs and other key EU institutions, including members of the Commission.

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told the hearing there was “full support” from the Commission to implement the necessary transformation. “The Commission promises you to work intensively to put this into legislation,” he said.

EU Parliament hearing, April 2021

We need bold action

In their letter, the MEPs call on the Commission to revise Directive 98/58 on the protection of farm animals “in order to end the unnecessary cruelty of caged farming, as soon as possible.”

“To build resilience into our food systems, in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy and the European Green Deal, we need bold action. As a first step, we call on you to end the use of all cages in farming,” the MEPs say.

The Commission should also ensure that all products imported into the EU meet its standards, including future requirements for cage-free farming, the MEPs say.

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MEP Eleonora Evi (Italy, Greens/EFA) commented: “The overwhelming support received by this initiative, signed by 101 MEPs from across the political spectrum, shows - once again - that there is a strong political support to ban the cruel practice of caged farming in the EU.  In its official response to the ECI we expect the Commission to fully back the European citizens’ ask and introduce as soon as possible a phase out of caged farming through a revision of Directive 98/58 on the protection of farm animals. The Commission cannot afford to shy away from enabling the change that so many people - both inside and outside the European Parliament - are expecting to see. It’s time to End the Cage Age”.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “This letter from over 100 MEPs confirms the overwhelming support for a ban on caged farming shown by European politicians from left, right and centre at the very successful European Parliament hearing earlier this month. The cruelty inherent in confining over 300 million farm animals every year in cages that restrict their movement, and the need to generalise the use of alternative, cage-free systems, is recognised ever more widely. We now look to the European Commission to make good on its promise to phase out cages by revising the 1998 directive on farmed animals as soon as possible.”

1.4 million citizens unite against cages

When animals are concentrated in large numbers in confined spaces, they do not experience a life worth living. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that farmed animals suffer in cages, yet every year in the EU over 300 million still spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls.

Cyprus Pigs Investigation 2013 (1)
Cages for pregnant pigs
'Enriched' cages for hens

The ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens' Initiative was signed by 1.4 million people across Europe and is only the sixth successful Initiative since the EU launched this democracy tool ten years ago. It is the very first successful Initiative for farmed animals.

The Initiative is also supported by over 170 organisations, a group of cross-party Members of the European Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions, a group of over 140 scientists, representatives of the business community, organisations campaigning for environmental protection, health and farming, as well as veterinary students and vets.

Schuman Square, October 2019
Schuman Square, October 2019

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