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Alyn Signs Sow Stalls Statement

Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has signed a Written Declaration calling for the enforcement of the EU's ban on individual sow stalls on 1 January 2013.

Directive 2001/88 on the protection of pigs bans the use of individual stalls for pregnant sows and gilts during a period from 4 weeks after service until a week before farrowing, in favour of group housing.  Holdings were given over a decade for compliance, until the end of 2012.  However, statistics from the European Commission show that only three Member States (the UK, Sweden and Luxembourg) are currently in compliance, and only a further four are expected to convert by the end of this year (Ireland, Lithuania, Denmark and Germany).  This follows in the wake of the non-enforcement of the EU's ban on battery cages at the end of last year, where 15 Member States, making up 14% of Europe's hens, flouted the rules.  

Alyn said:

"It's clear that the EU has a real problem with non-enforcement of animal welfare legislation, and the upcoming issue surrounding the protection of pigs merely adds more evidence to the case.  We've seen farmers in Western Europe converting to the new, correct cages and subsequently selling their battery cages to farmers in Eastern Europe; we've seen blatant violations of the animal transport directive in many regions of Europe, with drivers actually making their journeys longer to avoid countries with strict inspection regimes; we've seen long transition periods counting for nothing.  This is especially galling for farmers who have invested the resources to convert, and see strict enforcement by the Commission and the Court of Auditors of certain aspects of European law, like cross compliance, but a lack of enforcement when it comes to their competitors on animal welfare legislation.

"This is simply not good enough on the part of the Commission. There are significant tools at their disposal, and I want to see them used and used swiftly to force Member States into compliance.  Let's see more resources given to FVO inspectors, let's enable the Commission to work with the Member States to identify problem areas and resolve them (especially with long transition times) and possibly a more harmonised approach to penalties.

"That's why, although I am delighted to sign the Declaration, I think it could have gone further.  We need practical solutions beyond the mere slogan of "enforcement".  Our group is using the Animal Welfare Strategy to put forward such solutions, and I hope the Commission and Council will seriously consider them."