EU Parliament lends overwhelming support to ending cages, now all eyes on Commission
An historic milestone in the campaign to end the cage age was reached this week when the European Parliament voted resoundingly in favour of a ban on cages in farming. MEPs adopted a Resolution calling on the European Commission to legislate for an end to the use of cages for farmed animals, with 558 voting in favour, 37 against. In Europe alone, hundreds of millions of animals are forced to spend most, if not all, their lives in cages. Whilst some way to go before the end for cages truly draws into sight, this was a crucial battleground to win.
The mood for change in Brussels was palpable; 45 MEPs took to the floor with the overwhelming majority speaking in support of the Resolution to end cage farming. The heartfelt nature of calls was perhaps summed up no better than MEP Róża Thun Und Hohenstein from Poland who said, “if hell exists, we will be transported there in conditions similar to the conditions we transport animals in and in hell we will be kept in conditions similar to how we treat animals”.
MEP Eleonora Evi from Italy was amongst those making a passionate plea to the Commission for urgent legislation saying, “we want to free ourselves from cage farming”.
MEP Seán Kelly from Ireland continued the theme: “End the cage age, let the birds fly!”.
As well as calling for an end to cages, the EU Parliament called on the Commission to “put forward proposals to ban the cruel and unnecessary force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras”.
All in all, a truly momentous day for animal welfare in Europe.
So what happens next?
The overwhelming nature of the vote in Brussels sends the strongest possible signal to the Commission that citizens and Parliamentarians want action, not words.
It follows a massive European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) campaign by over 170 animal welfare organisations across Europe, which amassed 1.4 million signatures against factory farming.
Written into the EU Treaties, the ECI is a legally prescribed means of people demanding action from the Commission by gathering over a million signatures within a 12-month period. Few ECIs succeed, but those that do — including our End the Cage Age initiative — are granted a Parliamentary Hearing followed by consideration on how to act by the Commission.
So whilst we have much cause to celebrate, especially given the magnitude of support from MEPs, there is still a long way to go. The Commission has yet to respond. Any proposed new law will need to make its way through Brussels, seeking approval from both the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, meaning we still have much work to do.
The next step is that all-important response from the Commission, expected by the end of June. A positive signal has already been received. Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, attended this week’s debate and expressed support for the ‘End the Cage Age’ ECI. She commented that the Commission’s commitment to improving the welfare of animals remains a moral, health and economic “imperative”.
From Compassion’s Brussels office, our tireless lead campaigner, Olga Kikou, was clear that EU citizens and Parliamentarians have spoken: “Now, the ball is in the Commission’s court. We expect to see words put into action, followed by an ambitious timetable for ending the use of these outdated torture instruments called cages”.
For many years, people across Europe have been calling for an end to the dark ages of cages. Now, the EU has strong political mandate to make it happen.
Huge thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this tipping point. To those who signed, shared and championed the ECI petition over a frenetic year of collective impact.
A continent now stands on the cusp of compassionate action for animals.
With yesterday’s Parliamentary vote, we have the perfect springboard for creating food and farming fit for the future. One where the only cages are empty ones.