Citizens Committee weighs up legal options to deliver EU cages ban
Brussels, 19 October 2023 – A huge majority of Europeans supports a ban on individual cages for farmed animals, a new poll has revealed today. Despite this overwhelming support, the European Commission has failed to publish its draft proposals for a ban as promised. In response, the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Committee, supported by Compassion in World Farming, has said it will now look at taking first steps towards a legal action.
Today, the European Commission published a new official public opinion poll*, showing that almost nine out of ten Europeans (89%) want the EU to stop the individual caging of farmed animals. In addition, more than eight out of ten respondents (84%) want the welfare of farmed animals to be better protected.
Back in 2018, seven citizens from across Europe (France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Czechia) initiated the ‘End the Cage Age’ ECI – a democratic tool aimed at increasing citizen engagement in EU affairs that matter to them. The Initiative was signed by 1.4 million citizens and secured a unique commitment by the European Commission to end the cage age, which may become a litmus test for the credibility of EU democracy. This followed a campaign by 170 European NGOs, coordinated by Compassion in World Farming.
The promised laws to end caged farming, among others, were scheduled to be delivered in September as part of a landmark legislative package. On Tuesday, following many missed opportunities over recent weeks, the Commission again failed to deliver the promised proposal when it announced its planned work programme.
The seven citizens, supported by Compassion in World Farming, will now prepare legal steps to address the Commission’s failure to act.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative, said: “We very much welcome the publication of the latest official EU poll on animal welfare, as it shows what is common knowledge – Europeans care deeply about animals and nine out of ten Europeans support a ban on cages.
“Whilst the Commission made promises to the 1.4 million citizens who supported the ECI, President von der Leyen appears to be listening to big agriculture lobby rather than delivering the wishes of millions of EU citizens. We believe the landmark proposal to ban cages is drafted and ready to go and there is no good reason for any further delay. That’s why we stand behind the European Citizens’ Initiative Committee as they weigh up their legal options. The Commission must deliver for EU citizens now!”
The Eurobarometer conducted 26,376 interviews in all EU countries between 2 and 26 March 2023. It found that a clear majority of respondents believe that farmed animals need enough space to be able to move around, lie down and stand up (94%) and the EU needs to end mutilations (89%). More than half (60%) were also willing to pay more for welfare-friendly products. Overall, the attitude of Europeans continues its shift towards demanding higher protection for EU animals, which is clear from comparison with the previous polling on the topic that took place 7 years ago.
In the EU, every year about 300 million farmed animals still spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls, causing great suffering. Laying hens and rabbits, for example, are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around.
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Notes to Editors
1. For over 50 years, Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for farm animal welfare and sustainable food and farming. With over one million supporters, we have representatives across Europe, as well as in the U.S., China and South Africa.
2. * Eurobarometer – Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare, 19 October 2023
3. The ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens' Initiative received an overwhelming support by the European Parliament and was endorsed by over 170 organisations from across Europe, the European Committee of the Regions, scientists, representatives of the business community, organisations campaigning for environmental protection, health and farming, and veterinary organisations.
4. For years, we have called on the EU to revise its outdated legislation for the welfare of farmed animals. The Commission had pinned down the revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation for the third quarter of 2023.
5. Photos of caged animals are available. Photos of free-range farmed animals.