European Commission defends delays in overhauling animal welfare legislation

Animal welfare legislation
Photo: Canva

Further dialogue with stakeholders is needed before any overhaul of animal welfare legislation, according to the European Commission, in the wake of ground-breaking legal action being brought by campaigners angry with its failure to deliver a promised caged farming ban.

The European Commission told the European Parliament in March that the shelved proposals by the EU executive needed consultation with stakeholders and a sufficient transition period for the farming sector.

‘Strategic dialogue’ initiative

Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform, said she believes the ‘strategic dialogue’ initiative launched by Commission president Ursula von der Leyen earlier this year would be an ideal forum for the discussions.

Papers filed

The response came as the Citizens’ Committee of the End of the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) filed papers at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg outlining its case demonstrating that the Commission had failed to act on its promise to introduce legislation to ban cages in response to the successful ECI, which were was introduced with the specific intention of giving EU citizens more influence over EU decision-making.

Failure to act on an ECI

In 2021, the Commission made a clear commitment to introduce legislative proposals for an EU ban on caged farming before the end of 2023 following the ECI, which was signed by 1.4 million people and supported by a coalition of 170 NGOs, led by Compassion in World Farming. It is the first time the Commission has been held to account over a failure to act on an ECI. If successful, the Commission would be compelled to publish its proposals within a clear and reasonable timescale and to grant access to its file on the End the Cage Age ECI.

Olga Kikou of the Citizens’ Committee on the End the Cage ECI, said the European Commission had failed its people and failed the 300 million animals suffering in cages: “There is no justification for any further delay… We will not rest until every cage is an empty cage.”

Eurobarometer survey

In October last year, the Commission’s Eurobarometer survey found that 9 out of 10 EU citizens believe animals should not be farmed in individual cages. The Commission’s own scientific advisers, the European Food Safety Authority, have also backed the phasing out of cages on welfare grounds for laying hens, pigs, dairy calves, ducks, quail and rabbits.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance journalist
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