The European Citizen’s Initiative, the End the Cage Age initiative, has been met by overwhelming support from MEPs in a three-hour public hearing.
Signed by 1.4 million people across the EU, the initiative calls upon the EU to abolish the cruel practice of caging countless farm animals in cages each year, leading to untold amounts of needless suffering for these animals.
Launched on 11th September 2018, the ground-breaking initiative has seen leading food companies and over 140 scientists join the calls for the caging of animals to be abandoned in favour of cage-free, higher welfare systems to be adopted.
Opening the hearing the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Norbert Lins, acknowledged that “animal welfare can be improved in the EU”.
Lins also celebrated the success of this European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) for the way it has helped inform EU citizens on the situation of animal welfare within the bloc, noting that it is clear that “the welfare of animals plays a big role for EU citizens”.
The Vice-President of the EU Commission, Věra Jourovà, went further into detail about the importance of ECIs in that way that those who pass the required one million signatures are discussed at the tables of Commissioners.
“The Commission are here to listen attentively,” she said, highlighting that successful ECIs can have long-term effects on EU policy and strategies.
Another step towards a cage-free Europe!🐔🐷🐮
Today’s public hearing on #EndTheCageAge gave a voice to over 300 million caged animals in the EU.💚
— Greens/EFA in the EU Parliament 🌍 (@GreensEFA) April 15, 2021
In the public hearing, it was revealed that in the EU there are millions of caged animals, notably over 180 million chickens and 10 million sows among many others every year.
It was also highlighted that these caged options are not the only method. Rather, free-range, barn and organic systems were also proven to work whilst not exerting needless suffering on the animals.
Though Animal Rights Advocate, Olga Kikou, highlighted that there have already been “a number of pioneering member states and businesses have led the way in ditching cages and now it is time for the rest of the EU to catch up”.
Among the achievements mentioned are the ban for sow stalls after four days in the Netherlands, the banning of laying hen cages in Luxembourg and Austria ban on cages for meat rabbit.
“A number of pioneering member states and businesses have led the way in ditching cages and now it is time for the rest of the EU to catch up.” – @Olga_CIWF #EndTheCageAgeHearing pic.twitter.com/b8aPHLhbP1
— Compassion in World Farming EU (@CIWF_EU) April 15, 2021
What would banning caged animals mean?
The success of this ECI would mean various things. Namely, it would offer a prime example that the voices of EU citizens is heard and does matter – that there is a great value in campaigning for an ECI.
More related to the topic at hand, however, it would be a transformative factor on the farming industry and on the environment – promoting sustainability and allow the EU to be a leader in animal welfare.
Whilst there may be fears that this may increase import requirements or increase the prices of related products in the bloc. However, in terms of imports, the EU does have the ability to demand that imports meet the same standards.
In terms of prices, proper systems and subsidies can be introduced to match the required legislation initiatives, which should be able to counter any fears of price spikes.
Overall, this would be the perfect opportunity to allow the EU to continue moving forwards and also put such a topic in line with the EU’s Green Deal, which is currently being pushed as a method of recovery post-pandemic.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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