CLOSE TO 1.4 million people across Europe have signed a petition calling for a ban on keeping farmed animals in cages.

The petition has now been handed to the European Commission as part of a European Citizen’s Initiative organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

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The charity described the initiative as “the largest political push for farmed animal welfare in human history”.

It worked with  170 environmental, consumer rights and animal protection NGOs from across Europe to proomote the petition.

It means that CIWF will now meet with commission representatives to discuss the issues in detail, ahead of presenting at a public hearing in front of the European Parliament.

The European Commission will have to spell out what action – if any – it will propose in response to the initiative within six months.

End to cages

The petition has been running for two years and calls for an end to cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese.

It also asks for farrowing crates, sow stalls and individual calf pens to be outlawed.

Of the near 1.4m verified signatures, 54,114 were in the UK.

Public backing

Olga Kikou, CIWF’s head of EU, said: “Today’s hand-in of the End the Cage Age ECI is the culmination of a great effort by 1.4 million European citizens who came together to call on the EU to end the cruelty of confining farmed animals in cages.”

“The massive public backing for the initiative confirms the overwhelming level of interest EU citizens have in animal welfare.

“Now, the EU Commission must listen and come forward with substantive legislative proposals to phase out the use of cages in EU animal farming.”