The European Commission defends delays in the revision of animal welfare legislation

Further dialogue with stakeholders is needed before overhauling animal welfare legislation, according to the European Commission, in the wake of landmark legal action taken by campaigners angry at the country’s failure to deliver on a promised ban on caged farming.

The European Commission told the European Parliament in March that the EU executive’s suspended proposals needed consultation with stakeholders and a sufficient transition period for the agricultural sector.

‘Strategic dialogue’ initiative

Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform, said she believes the ‘strategic dialogue’ initiative launched earlier this year by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would be an ideal forum for the discussions.

Papers filed

The response came as the Citizens’ Committee of the End of the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) filed papers with the Court of Justice in Luxembourg setting out its case and showing that the Commission had failed to follow through on its promise to introduce legislation to ban cages in response to the successful ECI, which was introduced with the specific intention of giving EU citizens more influence over decision-making in the EU.

Not acting on an EBI

In 2021, the Commission made a clear commitment to present legislative proposals for an EU ban on caged farming by the end of 2023, following the ECI, which was signed by 1.4 million people and supported by a coalition of 170 NGOs, including leadership of Compassion in World Agriculture. This is the first time that the Commission has been held accountable for failing to act on an ECI. If this is successful, the Commission would be forced to publish its proposals within a clear and reasonable timeframe and provide access to its file on the End the Cage Age ECI.

Olga Kikou of the Citizens’ Committee for the End of the Cage ECI said the European Commission has failed its people and the 300 million animals suffering in cages: “There is no justification for further delay… We will not rest until every cage is an empty cage.”

Eurobarometer survey

In October last year, the Commission’s Eurobarometer survey found that nine in ten EU citizens believe animals should not be kept in individual cages. The Commission’s own scientific advisers, the European Food Safety Authority, have also supported the phasing out of cages on welfare grounds for laying hens, pigs, dairy calves, ducks, quails and rabbits.