The European Commission has given the Council an update of the implementation of animal welfare requirements on group housing of sows across the EU, based on the latest data and information sent by Member States.
According to the Commission, "the intention is to remind Member States to take their responsibilities to ensure full compliance with the Directive on the protection of pigs in view of the implementation of group housing of sows."
The requirement on group housing should have been implemented by all Member States as from 1st January 2013 but it has not been uniformly completed, despite the long phase-in period. New data shows that seventeen of the twenty-seven EU Member States are not fully compliant, even a month after the deadline.
"We're a month past the deadline for the full implementation of this Directive yet we are having to face the fact that seventeen of the other Member States are not fully compliant. After such a long transition period, this is simply unacceptable.
"Phase-in periods are given for a reason - and that reason is to minimise disruption and confusion, not so that businesses can squeeze as much profit out of the old system before it is shelved. With sow stalls and with battery cages, this is blatantly what we have seen.
"The Commission should now allow our authorities to take whatever action is deemed necessary to stop this illegal pork from reaching our shelves."
New housing requirements were introduced by Directive 2001/88 in 2001, giving Member States over a decade to phase in the new regulations. These new requirements include rules that sows and gilts (immature female pigs) be kept in groups during part of their pregnancy in all pig holdings keeping 10 sows or more. They also require permanent access to materials for rooting for sows and gilts, and a new minimum requirement for flooring surfaces.