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EU Commission makes a big step for farmed animals, committing to ban cages

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News Section Icon Published 30/06/2021

Today, 30 June 2021, the European Commission made a historic commitment to phase out cages in animal farming across the EU. It plans to prohibit cages for hens, mother pigs, calves, rabbits, ducks, geese and other farmed animals, looking at a phase-out date by 2027.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides together with Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová made the announcement at a press conference during which they presented the Commission’s response to the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative calling for an end to cages. The Initiative was signed by 1.4 million citizens across all EU member states and is the very first successful Initiative for farmed animals.

The Commission announced it intends to “put forward a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out and finally prohibit the use of cages for all the animal species and categories referred to in the initiative”.

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Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermas, Commissioners Stella Kyriakides & Janusz Wojciechowski, Vice-President Věra Jourová

The Commission will also address the issue of imported products from non-EU countries, committing to look at “introducing rules or standards for imported products that are equivalent to the EU’s”.

The Commission will evaluate the details for how the ban will roll out by the end of next year, with the aim to revise the relevant legislation by the end of 2023.

Ending unnecessary suffering

In the EU, every year over 300 million farmed animals still spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls, causing great suffering.

Laying hens and rabbits are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around. Calves, geese and quail are also caged, preventing them from performing basic natural behaviours.

Cyprus Pigs Investigation 2013
Cages for pregnant sows

Planting the seeds of a new era

During the press conference, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who is in charge of animal welfare, commented: "And it is important that today, we can say we have listened to you and we will continue to listen, we have heard you and we will continue to hear and will deliver uopn your aspirations, which are shared aspirations. Animal welfare is for us a political priority and we will continue to show our commitment to this."
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Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

“The long-awaited day has finally come!" said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and one of the citizens leading the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative. "Today, the European Commission made a big step to leave a legacy for animals – those locked in cages as innocent prisoners who have committed no crime. Citizens demanded change and the Commission heard the message loud and clear, making an unequivocal and visionary commitment to phase out cages."

"It feels like one of these moments in history when the tide is turning," she added. "The animal advocacy movement succeeded in rattling the cage and planting the seeds of a new era. From today on, a new journey begins. We will stay focused on the European institutions until they deliver on this ambition and will be vigilant in preventing vested interests from watering it down."

67802 © Compassion In World Farming
Citizens' Committee: Małgorzata Szadkowska, Romana Šonková, Geert Laugs, Léopoldine Charbonneaux, Olga Kikou, Annamaria Pisapia & Mahi Klosterhalfen

1.4 million united against cages

Since 2018, we have been leading a coalition of over 170 organisations from across Europe to support the ‘End the Cage Age‘ European Citizens’ Initiative. Over the one-year period allowed for collecting signatures, the Initiative received 1.4 million verified signatures from citizens in all EU Member States. On 2 October 2020, we submitted the signatures to the European Commission.

The Commission’s announcement follows the European Parliament’s overwhelming support to a resolution, adopted earlier this month, calling on the European Commission to phase out cages for farmed animals by 2027 and to ensure that all imported products into the EU comply with these cage-free standards.

The ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens' Initiative is also supported by 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.

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Schuman square, October 2019
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