The European Citizens’ Initiative “End the Cage Age” has collected data from all 27 EU Member States and the UK to rate them based on the percentage of cage-free farmed animals in each country.
Whilst some EU countries such as Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, and Germany have more than 85 percent cage-free farming, in reality, this can still mean hundreds of thousands of animals suffer from confinement and no Member States being 100% cage-free. Disappointingly, countries including Italy, France, Spain, and Poland that are key players in the EU animal agricultural sector, are at the bottom of the table, scoring no more than 25 percent in cage-free farming.
Over 300 million pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, geese, quail, and calves are imprisoned in cages across the EU. Most cages are barren, cramped, and deny the animals space to move freely.
In 2018, Slow Food joined a broad-based coalition of over 170 environmental, consumer rights, and animal protection groups from across Europe, that combined forces to launch the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age”. Last September, the ECI closed, having gained over 1.5 million signatures from individuals calling for an end of the use of cages for farm animals across the continent. This was the biggest political push for farmed animal welfare in European history.
Such a huge wave of support for the campaign proves that a future free from cages is a priority for EU citizens from every part of the continent and should, therefore, be a priority for EU Institutions and national Governments.
Signatures of the ECI “End the Cage Age” will be presented to the European Commission this Autumn. It will have three months to provide an official response. The organizations involved hope that the Commission will introduce legislation to ban cages for hens, pigs, calves, and other farmed animals. The organizers call on EU citizens’ and civil society groups to keep pressuring national Agricultural Ministers to speak out against cages and so to help to increase the chances of a European-wide ban coming from the Commission.