War Looms On Battery Cage Eggs

05 October 2011
Reports from the EU Commission confirm that, despite a twelve year phase-in period, some Member States will still be using battery cages after the deadline for the change-over on 1st January 2012.
Scotland's farmers have invested and complied with the legislation, meeting the challenge of EU animal welfare legislation and the demands of consumers, and Scottish agricultural MEP Alyn Smith has, in response, called for the European Commission to allow individual Member States to close their borders to illegal and sub-standard eggs given that there will be such a degree of non-compliance.

Alyn said:

"Today's presentation by Commissioner Dalli has underlined my concerns from over one year ago that any action from the Commission will be too little, and too late.

"The Commission's infraction proceedings will take too much time, will not punish the illegal producers and will not answer the question of what will happen to illegal eggs on 1st January 2012. In a time of economic crisis, to trash all illegal eggs is simply unconscionable so I welcome the Commissioner's honesty, especially on his preference for a ban on the movement of these illegal eggs from their country of origin, and their use purely for production, not consumption, and the hope that this lower value of these eggs will force the change to compliant systems. We cannot allow Scottish egg producers to be undercut by illegal, imported eggs. We must be allowed to close our borders and I await with interest the Commission's discussions on the possible legal basis for this move.

"However, there must be a direct economic incentive for the changeover to be made otherwise our farmers will lose out. The Commission must remain firm on the ban and they must increase their inspections in non-compliant Member States. If they allow non-implementation of this regulation then it is reasonable to wonder which other regulations will be next? Would there be similar hand-wringing from the Commission if the restrictions on sow stalls for pork producers, or even the EID regulations, were not met by our farmers?

"There must be strong and concerted action on the Commission between now and the end of December if our farmers in Scotland are not going to face a real struggle come January. It is time that the Commission stood up for all of those farmers who have invested and complied with this legislation, and for the public who have awaited this ban for more than a decade."

Commissioner Dalli confirmed to the Agriculture Committee that Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Spain and Greece have not yet provided the European Commission with any data on their levels of compliance. The Commission have also received information from Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Poland, Portugal and Romania that they do not expect to be fully compliant by 1st January 2012.