Battery Cage Saga Drags On

Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has expressed his disappointment with the news that not all EU Member States will be compliant with the regulation on battery cages (Council Directive 1999/74/EC) by the end of this year.

Although the deadline for full compliance was 1st January 2012, it was hoped that the pressure of infringement proceedings and penalty fines would ensure that it would be under twelve months before full compliance was reached across the EU. However, speaking at a conference in Brussels this week, Head of Unit for Animal Welfare at the European Commission, Andrea Gavinelli revealed that some Member States were unlikely to have reached full compliance by the start of 2013.

Alyn said:

"Having had twelve years to get ready for this ban, it is inexcusable that one year after the final deadline passed we are hearing reports that some Member States will still not be compliant.

"Member States signed up to this legislation back in 1999 and it is up to the same Member States to make sure it is complied with within their borders. All the same, it is not good enough that the Commission held off chasing this up until after the deadline passed, even though there was solid intelligence beforehand that the deadline wouldn't be met.

"It is absolutely right that the Commission stands firm and does not compromise in favour of lower welfare standards at this stage. If this piece of animal welfare legislation is not enforced then what will be next? Farrowing cages for pigs will be allowed to continue into next year or the welfare conditions of animals being transported lowered? Our consumers will simply not accept it.

"The one comfort I can scrape from this is that the Commission seems to have learnt a valuable lesson and does seem ready for battle when it comes to the sow stalls deadline. Monthly updates from Member States who seem to be dragging their feet are already being demanded, and preparations have been made so that infringement proceedings can be initiated on day one where required.
"I will continue the pressure to make sure this does happen, and fight to see our high welfare standards and Scottish producers protected."