Landmark EU Commission Commitment To End The Cage Age

Happy piglets | Credit: Shutterstock

Yesterday, 30th June 2021, the EU Commission committed to phase out cages in animal farming across the EU by 2027, making it a historic day for farmed animals

I was overjoyed listening to the EU Commission’s press conference yesterday, in which they announced their positive response to our End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative.

My hopes were realised when EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides stated: “Animals are sentient beings and we have a moral, societal responsibility to ensure that on-farm conditions for animals reflect this. Today’s response is a key step towards an ambitious revision of the animal welfare legislation in 2023, a priority since the beginning of my mandate. Our commitment is clear: the phasing out of cages for farm animals will be part of our actions under the Farm to Fork Strategy and lead to more sustainable farming and food systems. I am determined to ensure that the EU remains at the forefront of animal welfare on the global stage and that we deliver on societal expectations”.

Free-range hens | Credit Compassion in World Farming

Earlier this month, I celebrated along with EU animal welfare campaigners and supporters, the European Parliament’s vote in favour of a ban on cages in farming. The overwhelming nature of the vote in Brussels at that time, sent the strongest possible signal to the European Commission that EU citizens and Parliamentarians wanted action, not words and yesterday’s announcement from the Commission could not have been stronger. It promised to bring forward a legislative proposal to phase out the use of cages for farmed hens, rabbits, pullets, quail, ducks and geese, broiler breeders and laying hen breeders, sows and calves by 2023, and it is examining the possibility of enacting legislation to this end by 2027.

This is a genuinely historic moment, which will be remembered by generations to come. And it includes ALL the animal species mentioned in our ECI.

Our own Olga Kikou, Head of EU at Compassion in World Farming, who has campaigned tirelessly to achieve this, said: “The long-awaited day has finally come! Today, the European Commission made a historic decision to leave a legacy for farmed animals. Citizens demanded change and the Commission received the message loud and clear, making an unequivocal and visionary commitment to phase out cages. The tide is finally turning. We will stay focused on the European institutions until they deliver on this ambition and will be vigilant in preventing vested interests from watering it down.

“Factory farming is the biggest cause of cruelty to sentient creatures on the planet. Ending the use of cages is a massive step towards ending factory farming.”

The ECI

All in all, the announcement is a massive endorsement to the hard work put in by all our wonderful supporters, who have made their voices heard through the ECI, and who ultimately have made this wonderful news possible.

To help remind you, the End the Cage Age ECI launched on 11 September 2018 and closed exactly a year later, having gained over 1.6 million signatures. Following the required signature validation period, the ECI easily exceeded the required threshold of 1 million signatures, with a total of 1.397.113 validated signatures across Europe, making it the first successful ECI on farmed animal welfare!

Interestingly, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in her social media tweet, following this historic decision ‘This #ECI is EU Democracy in action’.

Sow and her piglet at Knepp Rewilding Estate | Credit: Philip J Lymbery

What Next?

In order to achieve its goal, the EU Commission must propose the necessary legal changes to the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers (COM), and these two bodies must vote to accept these legislative proposals.

We will of course continue to lobby and on 19 July 2021, the Council of Ministers will present the ECI at the EU Agriculture ministers meeting and we will have a first glimpse of their reactions. We promise to keep you updated.

In the meantime, achieving this ECI milestone and making history for farmed animals has been a massive collaborative effort and I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has made this day possible. From the dedicated staff here at Compassion to all our partner NGOs, to those within the EU Commission and the MEPs who have supported us throughout, and to the millions of animal lovers across the globe who stand up for the voiceless.

Thank you.

Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming https://philiplymbery.com/