Commission reminds Member States their obligation to implement ban on hen cages

Once again, the European Commission has warned Member States about the risks they face for legal actions in the case of not applying the ban on un-enriched cages for laying hens, which will enter into force on 1 January 1 2012. This warning occurs comes after the fact that twelve years after the adoption of EU Directive, little progress was made in its implementation.

The Directive on the minimum standards for the protection of laying hens exists since 1999, when the EU Member States agreed on its provisions and on a timeframe to comply with the requirements. Under this legislation, from 1 January 2012 un-enriched cages for laying hens will be banned in the European Union.

This prohibition and the need to replace the un-enriched cages by more appropriate ones is supported by an opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued 2005, which analysed the conditions of health and safety of different systems of keeping laying hens. Furthermore, in December 2010 the European Parliament adopted a resolution which also supported this legislation and urged its implementation on schedule.

While some countries have already upgraded their systems of rearing laying hens, since the passage of the legislation only a few Member States have used rural development funds to make this substitution. Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria and Germany have reported a 100% compliance with EU legislation.