Today, the European Commission has finally broken its silence on its promised animal welfare revolution, signalling it is game over for the promised ban on caged farming. Instead, the Commission will simply make minor amendments to current inadequate EU laws on animal transport – a small fraction of the plans they had announced for the world’s biggest animal welfare reform and the commitments they made to citizens regarding a ban on caged farming.
Today, during a press conference relating to the new portfolio of Commission Executive Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, it was revealed that the Commission is not planning to publish the promised package of proposals officials had spent years working on, and instead will only publish a technical proposal on animal transport, lacking in ambition, in December this year.
In June 2020, the Commission made a commitment to 1.4 million citizens to end caged farming, who used a much-touted democracy tool, enshrined in the EU treaties over 10 years ago – the European Citizens’ Initiative. The ‘End the Cage Age’ Initiative was the only one to result in a firm commitment since this democratic tool was introduced.
Citizens will not betray animals
The Commission’s U-turn regarding the much-touted animal welfare reform is a failure for democracy and the European project," said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative.
"After years of strong citizen engagement and clear-cut commitments, the Commission is now betraying EU citizens who believed in what was promised in 2020," Olga added. "The farm animal revolution that everyone was expecting would have diminished the suffering of hundreds of millions of animals every year. It has fallen victim to political games and those who espouse business as usual."
"The EU has just lost any remaining credibility it had," Olga concluded. "The EU is betraying its citizens but citizens will not betray animals. We will hold those in power accountable and will fight until all cages are empty.”
A leak from earlier this year outlined the Commission’s plans for the world’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare reforms to date. In addition to the ban on cages, which would affect 300 million farmed animals caged in the EU every year, the Commission planned to ban on the routine mutilation of hundreds of millions of animals every year, to stop inhumane slaughter of around a billion farmed fish, and reduce the overcrowding and pain-inducing growth rate of about 11 billion broiler chickens annually.
The right-wing allies in the European Parliament, who have been blocking the EU’s Green Deal, are now opposing the animal welfare revolution. Yesterday, on 3 October, the European People’s Party deputy in charge of agriculture Herbert Dorfmann put pressure on the new Green Deal Chief to stick to the comments made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month and not to present the proposals this legislative term.
Last month, media reports warned about a backslide on the Commission’s commitment to phase out cages for 300 million farmed pigs, egg-laying hens, rabbits, and other species every year, as well as other animal welfare measures in line with the science of the 21st century. On 2 October, the centre-left group Socialists & Democrats sent a letter, urging Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to present the proposal.