No End in Sight for Battery Cages in Italy, Greece

EU - One year after the EU-wide ban on barren battery cages came into force, Compassion in World Farming has discovered Italy and Greece are undermining Europe's claim to leadership in animal welfare.
calendar icon 7 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Compassion has welcomed the news that there are now only two countries breaking EU law by continuing to keep hens in barren battery cages, a practice outlawed on 1 January 2012.

But, more than a year after the law came into force, the charity is calling for urgent action over the lack of progress in Greece and Italy to implement the Laying Hens Directive, 14 years after it was agreed on by all EU member states.

Annamaria Pisapia, Head of Compassion's Italian office, says: "In Italy there is a lot of talk about the Greek economy and many people are worried that Italy will go the same way. Well, to our shame, Italy is dead last when it comes to getting rid of cruel barren battery cages. Italy accounts for the majority of the 20 million laying hens estimated to still be in barren cages in the EU."

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming, says: "It is shameful that millions of the EU's hens are still in illegal cages. The EU has built a reputation for raising animal welfare standards and individual nations should not be allowed to undermine this."

"As well as action from governments and the European Commission, food companies should be checking their supply chains to make sure none of the eggs they use come from illegal systems. There should be no market for these suppliers."

On 1 January 2012, 14 nations, including the UK, were not in line with the new rules. However, all but Italy and Greece have now moved to consign barren battery cages to history.

Olga Kikou, Compassion's European Affairs Manager, says the situation in Greece is lamentable: "Over 10 years have passed since Greek farmers found out that they would have to convert to higher welfare systems for their hens. The barren battery cage ban has been in effect for over a year now, yet many Greek farmers are not compliant or even showing they will comply. The Greek state has to take strict measures to ensure that it does not set a bad example for Europe and to prevent sanctions, which would mean the Greek people paying for those who defy the law."

So called 'enriched' cages, which allow more space per bird and offer some extras like nesting space, are still permitted under the Laying Hens Directive. Compassion is against all cages for laying hens but heralded the Directive as a major step forward for animal welfare in the EU.

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