One million people have signed a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) against caged breeding and for the welfare of farm animals, the minimum number required to force a response from Brussels. The ‘End the Age of the Cage’ petition was launched in September 2018 by more than 170 European animal, environmental and consumer organisations.
Calling the practice of caging farm animals “cruel and unnecessary, as higher-welfare cage-free systems are viable,” the signatories of the initiative call on the EU to ban the use of cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese; as well as an end to farrowing crates for sows and sow stalls.
“Of all the terrible contraptions used to control animals, the cage is one of the worst” says Sean Gifford, Head of Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming.
“It is high time we evolved past such cruelty and put a stop to the primitive and barbaric practice of keeping farm animals behind bars – a life spent in a cage is no life at all.”
Signatures were collected in all EU countries except the United Kingdom. Germany and the Netherlands are the countries with the most signatures (327,707 and 117,240 respectively), followed by Spain (78,751), Italy (66,212) and France (53,406).
The European Citizens’ Initiative is a procedure established in the Lisbon Treaty (2009). A citizens’ initiative must collect, in the space of one year, at least one million signatures in seven countries of the European Union, with a minimum number in each country. The Commission then has three months to react. It may or may not decide to proceed and initiate a legislative procedure, but either way it must justify its decision.