War On Substandard Eggs Will Be Next Step

30 September 2011
Alyn Smith MEP, full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has today (Friday) called for an all-out ban on imports of eggs and egg products from laying hens housed in battery cages as of 1st January 2012.
His call comes in response to reports which suggest that, despite a twelve year phase-in period, some Member States will not have completed the change-over to enriched cages by the deadline. Scotland's farmers have invested and complied with the legislation, meeting the challenge of the EU animal welfare legislation and the demands of consumers.
Alyn has lodged a European Parliament Written Declaration on battery cages. This calls for the European Commission to launch swift and effective infraction proceedings with heavy and dissuasive fines if there is a lack of compliance with all elements of the Directive on 1st January 2012. It also calls for the Commission to underline the necessity of a full intra-community trade ban for all eggs not in compliance at the time of full implementation. In order to stiffen the Commission's resolve, Alyn has called on the UK to implement a full pre-emptive ban on imports to our market if no EU ban on substandard exports is forthcoming.
Alyn said:
"Having had twelve years to get ready for this ban, it is inexcusable that we are getting so close to the deadline and still hearing reports that some Member States will have severe difficulties complying. I simply do not accept this, and want the Commission to throw the book at them.
"Our farmers in Scotland, especially the sheep boys right now, are well used to the Commission taking a firm line on EID, it is only right the Commission will be similarly tough with those member states who have not complied over battery cages.  If the Commission does bottle it, then the UK government must be ready to implement a full ban on eggs and egg products produced illegally from 2012 and I have written to the London Minister stressing this point.
"On this issue we can be clear: our consumers don't want battery-produced eggs, our producers don't want battery-produced eggs. Nor, indeed, do the European Parliament and Commission. The legislation was passed for a reason and the European Commission must stand up and reaffirm that they will not accept battery eggs within the single market.
"I will be meeting with the Commission to discuss this subject early next month and I hope that I will be given answers to reassure me. However, in the meantime, I am not just going to sit back and wait and see; the Parliament and the Commission need to reiterate their stances that non-compliance will not be tolerated.
"If the existing incentive to change to compliant systems is in any way weakened, we will see the continued use of battery cages after 1st January 2012. We are in a situation of 'who will blink first?' and I can absolutely underline that it will not be the European Parliament. I want to see the Commission show similar backbone.
"The results of compromising in favour of lower welfare standards at this point are not small. If we do not enforce this animal welfare legislation then what will be next? Farrowing cages for pigs will be allowed to continue or the welfare conditions of animals being transported lowered? Our consumers will simply not accept it. 
"I will continue to fight to see our high welfare standards and Scottish producers protected."