The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority, with 558 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in favour to 37 against and 85 abstentions. It urges the Commission to revise the outdated EU directive on farmed animals, Directive 98/58/EC, in order to phase out cruel cage systems.
In the EU, at present, laying hens and rabbits 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. Calves, geese and quail are also caged, preventing them from performing basic natural behaviours.
Parliamentarians agreed on the need to end these practices. They also highlighted the need to ensure that all products placed on the EU market – including imported ones – comply with future cage-free standards. They stressed the need to provide adequate incentives and financial programmes to support farmers through the transition.
In addition, the EU Parliament called on the Commission to “put forward proposals to ban the cruel and unnecessary force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras.”
Parliamentarians also pushed the Commission to speed up its review of the EU’s animal welfare legislation, asking for this to be completed by 2022 instead of late 2023 as currently planned. This would help ensure that the ban is introduced within the mandate of the current Commission, which will leave office in 2024.
In the morning session on 10 June, the Parliament also debated the resolution, with an extraordinary number of 45 MEPs taking the floor. The debate was attended by Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who expressed support for the ‘End the Cage Age’ Initiative. She stated that the Commission’s commitment to improve the welfare of animals “does remain a moral, a health and an economic imperative.” “And for me, it is a personal commitment to strive for change,” she added.
The Commission is expected to announce what steps it will take regarding the issue on 30 June this year.