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European Commission - Press release

Animal Welfare: Commission urges 13 Member States to implement ban on laying hen cages

Brussels, 26 January 2012 – Today, the European Commission, via a letter of formal notice requesting for information, called on Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania to take action to address deficiencies in the implementation of EU legislation concerning the welfare of animals, and specifically to implement the ban on "un-enriched" cages for laying hens which applied as of 1st January 2012, as laid down by Directive 1999/74/EC.

The political decision for the ban on "un-enriched" cages was taken in 1999. Member States have had twelve years to ensure a smooth transition to the new system and to implement the Directive. However, so far, and notwithstanding the repeated calls by the Commission, the above mentioned Member States have failed to adequately comply with the EU law.

As from 1 January 2012, Directive 1999/74/EC requires that all laying hens must be kept in "enriched cages" with extra space to nest, scratch and roost, or in alternative systems. According to the Directive, cages can be used only if they provide each hen with at least 750 cm² of cage area, a nest-box, litter, perches and claw-shortening devices, allowing the hens to satisfy their biological and behavioral needs.

Full compliance with the requirements of the Directive by Member States is essential. It is clear that Member States who don't fulfil their legal obligations not only create consequences on animal welfare but can also cause market distortions and unfair competition. Member States who still allow the use of "un-enriched" cages put businesses that invested in complying with the new measures at a disadvantage.

Thus, following today's action taken by the Commission, the concerned Member States have two months to respond to the letter of formal notice under EU infringement procedures. If they fail to react satisfactorily the Commission will send a "Reasoned Opinion" requesting concerned Member States to take the necessary measures to comply with the Directive within two months.

For more information on the Animal Welfare on the Farm – Laying Hens, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/farm/laying_hens_en.htm

MEMO/11/1216

For more information on the infringement procedure: MEMO/12/42

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)


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