Submission and examination
The organisers met with the European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová and the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides on 30 October 2020.
The initiative was debated at the European Parliament’s plenary session on 10 June 2021. In the resolution adopted on the same day, the European Parliament expressed its support for the initiative. See European Parliament’s press release.
Answer of the European Commission
Main conclusions of the Communication:
In its response to the ECI, the Commission communicated its intention to table, by the end of 2023, a legislative proposal to phase out, and finally prohibit, the use of cage systems for all animals mentioned in the Initiative, under conditions to be determined on the basis of opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the results of an impact assessment and a public consultation.
As part of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission already expressed its intention to propose a revision of the animal welfare legislation, including on transport and rearing. This legislation was submitted to a fitness check, concluded in September 2022. Its results, presented in a Commission Staff Working Document, indicate that there is a need to revise and modernise the EU animal welfare legislation, and provide a good basis for this revision. See more information on the revision.
In parallel to the legislation and to facilitate a balanced and economically viable transition to cage-free farming, the Commission will seek specific supporting measures in key related policy areas, such as trade and research and innovation. In particular, the new Common Agricultural Policy will provide financial support and incentives – such as the new eco-schemes instrument – to help farmers upgrade to more animal-friendly facilities in line with the new standards. Additionally, Member States can draw from the Just Transition Fund and Recovery and Resilience Facility to support farmers in the adaptation to cage-free systems.
EFSA scientific opinions have been published concerning the welfare risks associated with cages for all animal species and categories covered by the ECI (pigs, laying hens, broiler breeders, layer breeders, calves, rabbits, ducks, geese and quail). A public consultation was carried out from 15 October 2021 to 21 January 2022. An impact assessment was initiated, with an inception impact assessment published in July 2021, followed by a series of consultation activities, including in the context of the EU animal welfare platform, and its relevant subgroups.
The Commission is now carefully assessing important aspects to ensure that the transition to cage-free farming is sustainable for the agricultural sector and for our food systems, including food security. The preliminary results of the ongoing impact assessment show that the transition to cage-free systems demands the adaptation of several farming parameters, such as enriching the environment of the animals, and providing them with more space, to secure improved welfare conditions for the animals. Further consultations are needed concerning the costs, the appropriate length of the transitional period and the relevant measures at import. To ensure a proper balance between animal welfare and socio-economic impacts, the phasing out of cages has to come with other animal welfare measures at farm level. Preparatory work will therefore continue, including in the context of the strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU.