European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the previously pledged ban on caged farming and other animal welfare measures, like killing day-old chicks and fur farming, would be postponed.
Two years ago, the EC committed to end the use of cages in animal farming in response to the ‘End the Cage Age‘ European Citizens’ Initiative, which 1.4 million citizens signed. Eight out of ten Members of the European Parliament voted in favor of ending caged farming, so a sudden postponement shocked animal welfare organizations and citizens.
During her State of the European Union (SOTEU) speech, von der Leyen unexpectedly avoided any mention of the new animal welfare laws. Recent reports suggest the Big Agri lobby in Brussels played a considerable role in influencing the EU’s decision-making process.
“What happened today is scandalous. The European Commission has gone back on its word to give animals a life worth living, bowing to the demands of the Big Agri lobby and killing the new animal welfare laws by delaying,” Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) EU, said. “They have betrayed the trust of its citizens and have turned EU democracy into an empty shell.”
“The silence on animal welfare was deafening. This should have been the moment of truth. Civil society has been promised action to overhaul our Union’s outdated animal welfare rules time and time again,” Joe Moran, director of the European Policy Office at animal welfare organization Four Paws, said. “The calls and concerns of millions of Europeans and the ethics of animal welfare have seemingly just been discarded.”
Every year, around 300 million farmed animals in the EU endure confinement in cages, pens, or stalls, a practice considered inhumane by many animal welfare experts. Laying hens and rabbits are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Adult female pigs are put in crates where they cannot even turn around.