The European Commission has stated that it will work on new legislation to phase out caged animal husbandry throughout the EU.
It comes after more than 1.4 million people signed a petition calling for the controversial system to be abolished.
The alterations would have an impact on rabbits, young hens, quails, ducks, and gees. EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides stated that “Animals are sentient beings, and we have a moral and societal obligation to ensure that on-farm circumstances reflect this”.
By 2023, new legislation will be introduced, and the modifications will be brought in progressively by 2027.
EU cage laws already apply to laying hens, cows, and calves, however, hens are currently allowed to be housed in “furnished” cage systems. These are more spacious than the densely packed battery cages that were prohibited across the EU in 2012, yet welfare investigators discovered farms utilizing them in numerous EU nations in 2015.
The announcement by the European Commission comes only weeks after the European Parliament, which is elected by EU citizens, decided to approve the ban in response to the End the Cage Age petition.
The parliament expressed “grave worries” over the conditions in which some animals were kept, with some unable to stand, stretch, or turn around.
The EU has some of the world’s strictest animal welfare laws. According to a report by End the Cage Age, 94 percent of its farmed rabbits, as well as 49 percent of its hens and 85 percent of its sows, are currently caged.
A bill is also being proposed to prohibit the force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of the French delicacy foie gras. The EU countries have already expressed their support for the reforms. According to the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, Germany has announced that it will unilaterally ban caged hens by 2025, with just under 6% of its current hen population living in cages.
The Czech Republic has also stated that caged hens will be prohibited, while Austria and Luxembourg have already done so. Species-by-species improvements would be made to encourage alternatives to confined farming for each animal’s unique needs. Farmers will be aided by government subsidies in order to improve their equipment and acquire current training.
To pass, the legislation must be approved by all 27 EU member states, as well as the European Parliament, and then individual countries would be responsible for enforcing the new standards.