THE European Commission has said it will table proposals to phase out and finally prohibit cage systems in animal production.

It was responding to a European Citizens Initiative signed by more than a million citizens across the EU calling for the ban.

See also: 85% of global 2020 cage-free egg commitments fulfilled

It will cover laying hens, sows and calves, as well as pullets, layer breeders, broilers, quail, ducks and geese.

The move will place pressure on the UK government to adopt similar legislation.

Welcoming the news, Compassion In World Farming senior policy manager James West said: “It is now crucial that the UK Government follows suit and delivers an end to the use of cages – Britain must not get left trailing behind the EU in improving farm animal welfare”.

The legislative proposal should be tabled by the end of 2023, with the Commission hoping to bring it into force as soon as 2027.

Animal welfare

It will need to be agreed by both the European Parliament and the 27 member states. Individual countries will be responsible for enforcing any ban that comes into force.

In mid-June the European Parliament supported a ban in a non-binding vote.

Germany has unilaterally said it would ban colony hen systems by 2025, as has the Czech Republic (by 2027). Luxembourg and Austria have also banned caged hens.

Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture, said: “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.

“This citizens’ initiative only confirms that this transition also responds to a societal demand for more ethical and sustainable farming.”