EU Member States to be Held to Account over Battery Hens

January 17, 2012 5:35 PM

South West England and Gibraltar Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson has received an assurance by the European Commission that Members States which do not comply with new welfare rules for laying hens will be closely investigated and, if appropriate, taken to court.

Under intense political pressure from Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, the Commission confirmed its commitment to put in place infringement procedures as of January 2012.

Sir Graham commented:

"It is great news that the Commission refuses to postpone the legal deadline for a ban of battery cages for chicken and will hold to account non-compliant Member States.

"The Commission must also support those countries such as the UK who are using every means at their disposal to try and ban illegally produced eggs from entering their markets.

"UK egg producers who invested heavily in new enriched cases must not suffer from illegal competitors who can undercut their prices through animal cruelty.

"Until a full ban on illegal eggs and egg products is put in place, consumers can take care to only buy products labelled free range or organic with regard to their egg content."

According to EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli, inspection teams will start their investigations in targeted Member States as of January 2012 to collect evidence of non-compliance to back up the prosecution when it goes to court.

In theUK, Defra has revealed that 30UKfarms still use battery cages for up to 500,000 laying hens. However, the Government announced that it expected full compliance with the new hen welfare law by February and would prosecute any non-compliant egg producers after this date.