Any attempt to evade the EU ban on battery cages for laying hens due to take effect in January 2012 must be resisted, says a European Parliament resolution approved on Thursday. Animal welfare must be safeguarded and unfair competition prevented from producers who continue unlawfully to use these methods.
MEPs want the Commission to take “urgent action” towards Member States to ensure that egg producers comply with the ban. National action plans with “dissuasive sanctions” should be put in place, they say.
Egg shortage looms
MEPs are concerned that a “substantial number” of Member States and 30% of EU egg production may not be ready to comply with the ban by the 1 January deadline. They point to a “risk of egg shortages and significant price increases,” as eggs which are not produced in compliance with the directive “are not legally marketable in the EU.”
Even so, Parliament opposes any postponement of or derogations to the ban, since this “would seriously harm the welfare of hens”. The resolution, which was adopted by 459 votes to 32 with 17 abstentions, urges the Commission to stick to the ban and to oppose strongly any attempts by Member States to obtain a deferral. It also asks the Commission to submit, by 31 December 2011, a list of egg and egg-product producers, processors and retailers who are not complying with the law.
MEPs nevertheless also believe that a solution must be found for those producers who have started changing the rearing systems but will not complete the process before the deadline.