Long-Awaited Clarity On Egg Issue Given

21 December 2010
SNP MEP Alyn Smith, member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has received long-awaited information from the European Commission regarding the controversial phase-out of conventional battery cages by the end of 2011.
Smith, who wrote to the Commissioner for Agriculture (Dacian Ciolos) and the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy (John Dalli) in September, asking for detail of the Commission's plans for the enforcement of the regulation to phase out battery cages in 2012, has received written confirmation that the Commission fully intend to stand firm on this issue.

With Scotland's farmers already compliant, there are fears that pressure from those member states who have not yet implemented the regulation to completion will seek derogations as the deadline approaches.

Smith said:

"This is not exactly the quickest of replies from the Commission but I am glad that we have got some information in the end.

"Having met with the Commission earlier in the year to discuss this, I was assured that there was no hint of compromise when it came to allowing eggs produced in battery cages to enter the EU market. This letter confirms that this stance remains the case. For our farmers to face an influx of cheaper, substandard eggs from those producers who have not met the regulation put in place twelve years ago is unquestionable and I am glad to see that Commissioner Dalli shares my point of view.

"However, my concern remains what will happen to those eggs that are produced illegally after 1st January 2012? With figures stating that as much as 29% of EU egg and poultry meat production could become illegal if the standards set down in the 1999 regulation are not met, we cannot consider trashing so much food. Although Dalli has confirmed that the Commission are "exploring solutions" to this problem, I would be interested to hear what these solutions are and how they will avoid such wastage without compromising the single market.

"The Commission has organised a meeting in January to get the authorities and stakeholders together to explore these "solutions" further so it seems that it is all eyes on that to see what prospect we are facing come the end of 2011. I will continue to fight to see our producers and high welfare standards protected."