EC attacked by NFUS for poor cage-ban enforcement

THE European Commission has been strongly criticised by NFU Scotland for the ‘weak’ way it is trying to enforce the ban on illegal cages.

A spokesman for NFUS said: “There is a huge level of frustration and disappointment amongst Scottish egg producers at the Commission’s efforts to enforce this legislation and this statement simply highlights why those feelings exist.

“Despite having a lead in time of 12 years, 13 member states have failed to comply and a significant amount of EU egg production is still being generated in illegal cages that other producers have gone to considerable expense to remove.

“The Commission’s vision of ‘action’ involves writing to non-compliant countries, giving them two months to respond. If they fail to respond, they will get another letter and be given a further two months to respond.

“Meanwhile eggs will continue to be produced from banned cages and find a market somewhere - either domestically, internally within the EU or on export markets.”

The spokesman added: “We have highlighted to Commission officials, as recently as last week, that this infringement procedure is weak and laborious and lessons on implementing welfare legislation must be learned and changes made before Europe seeks to introduce a ban on sow stalls at the end of 2012.

“Such stalls have been illegal in the UK since 1999 and it would be unacceptable if we exposed our pig producers to the same level of dithering seen in Europe over the introduction of the laying hens legislation.”

In a statement, the EC said the 13 countries – Belgium. Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania – had failed to comply ‘notwithstanding repeated calls’ by the Commission.

It added it was clear that ‘member states which did not fulfil their legal obligations not only created consequences on animal welfare but could also cause market distortions and unfair competition. It said member states which still allowed the use of ‘un-enriched’ cages put businesses which invested in complying with the new measures at a disadvantage.

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