The decision came in the form of a positive response to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’. The initiative was supported by 1.4m citizens across the bloc, as well as food majors Nestlé, Unilever, and Mondelēz International.
As it stands, laying hens, broilers, sows and calves are already covered by rules on caging. Now, under the Commission's new commitment, caged farming will also be banned for rabbits, pullets, layer breeders, broiler breeders, quail, ducks and geese.
The Commission is planning to table a legislative proposal by 2023 to prohibit cages for these animals, and is assessing the feasibility of working towards the ban being enforced from 2027.
“Animals are sentient beings and we have a moral, societal responsibility to ensure that on-farm conditions for animals reflect this,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
“Today’s response is a key step towards an ambitious revision of the animal welfare legislation in 2023, a priority since the beginning of my mandate. Our commitment is clear: the phasing out of cages for farm animals will be part of our actions under the Farm to Fork Strategy and lead to more sustainable farming and food systems.”
Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski similarly welcomed the decision. “A sustainable food system cannot exist without high animal welfare standards. Thanks to our citizens, the Commission will be even more ambitious in this regard and phase out the use of cage systems for animal farms.
“The Green Deal and its Farm to Fork Strategy, supported by the new Common Agricultural Policy, will be crucial in the transition to sustainable food systems. The citizens’ initiative only confirms that this transition also responds to a societal demand for more ethical and sustainable farming.”
Animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) applauded the Commission’s commitment. “The long-awaited day has finally come!” noted Olga Kikou, Head of CIWF EU.
“It feels like one of these moments in history when the tide is turning. The animal advocacy movement succeeded in rattling the cage and planting the seeds of a new era. From today on, a new journey begins.
“We will stay focused on the European institutions until they deliver on this ambition and will be vigilant in preventing vested interests from watering it down.”