Commission faces legal action over failure to phase out cages in farming 

The European Commission is set to appear before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) following legal action initiated by the citizen-driven campaign ‘End the Cage Age’. 

Back in 2021, responding to demands voiced by the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘End the Cage Age’, the Commission pledged to propose legislation by 2023 aimed at banning cages for various farm animals, including hens, rabbits, pigs, quail, ducks, geese, and calves.

However, the legal action accuses the Commission of failing to fulfill its commitment to phase out farming cages. Instead, the animal welfare package unveiled by the EU executive last December focused solely on stricter regulations concerning animal transportation and pets.

When the Commission omitted the cage ban from its remaining mandate agenda in November 2023, animal welfare groups lodged a complaint with the European Ombudsman. Now, on March 18, the ‘End the Cage Age’ ECI Committee, spearheaded by the NGO Compassion in World Farming, has escalated the matter to the ECJ.

Olga Kikou, representing the Citizens’ Committee of the ECI, said that there is no valid reason for further delays and that the Commission has let down the 1.4 million EU citizens who supported the initiative. The campaign claims that over 300 million farm animals across the EU are currently confined in cages.

The anticipated revision of animal welfare legislation, including cage regulations, amendments to slaughter practices, and improved animal welfare labeling, was supposed to be integral to the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU’s primary sustainable food policy. 

The commission said that the highly technical and demanding nature of the work was the main reason for the delay, though time is running short before the upcoming EU election in June.

Animal welfare regulations aren’t the sole absent element in the EU’s farm-to-fork strategy, which has also failed to enact the promised sustainable food systems law. Last week, the Commission informed the European Parliament of the postponement of the planned overhaul of animal welfare legislation, citing the necessity for further dialogue with stakeholders.


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