European citizens demand end of cages in farming: 1.4 million signatures

Egg-laying hens with extreme feather loss, Spain, photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality
Egg-laying hens with extreme feather loss, Spain, photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

A petition against the caging of farm animals in Europe has reached almost 1.4 million signatures, requiring the European Commission to look into the issue, the EU said Friday.

Over 300 million pigs, chickens, rabbits, ducks and quails suffer a painful existence crammed into tiny cages across Europe. “End the Cage Age” campaigners, who include actress Pamela Anderson, don’t want the animals kept in cages anymore.

On World Farm Animal Day (2 October), more than 170 NGOs handed in 1,397,113 validated signatures on the “End the Cage Age” European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to the EU Commission. The initiative was launched by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in 2018.

They also demand a ban on separating mother pigs from their babies throughout the EU. 

ECI is a mechanism enabling residents to force the Commission to look into a matter once a million signatures have been collected from at least seven member states.

The Commission can then propose legislation, take other measures or decide not to act at all. A hearing in the European Parliament must be organized within three months.

According to the Commission, most of the End the Cage Age signatures, almost half a million, came from Germany.  With 150,000 signatures, a large number from the Netherlands also took part.

The impact of “End the Cage Age” is already noticeable in some EU member states. Most recently, the Czech Republic submitted a proposal to ban the production of eggs from laying hens in cages in the EU by 2030, which was supported by Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Sweden and Slovakia.

The Czech Parliament is banning the use of cages for laying hens from 2027. As 84 percent of the laying hens in the country are kept in cages, the ban will reduce the suffering of 4.5 million animals.

Still, half of the commercial egg-laying hens in the EU are cruelly kept in cages, with 90 percent of the laying hens in Lithuania kept in cages, 86 percent in Poland and 88 percent in Spain, according to animal welfare organization Four Paws, part of the “End the Cage Age” initiative.

The Animal Reader talked to Olga Kikou, head of of Compassion in World Farming EU, about the Czech Republic banning cages for hens and the European Citizens’ Initiative.

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