Member states continuing to flout the EU conventional cage ban will still not have achieved full compliance by the start of next year, it has been revealed.

Officials had hoped that pressure of infringement proceedings and fines would ensure the 12 EU countries yet to meet the legislation reached full compliance within 12 months.

But speaking at a conference in Brussels, Andrea Gavinelli, head of animal welfare at the European Commission, said non-compliant countries were “unlikely” to have reached full compliance by the start of 2013.

The news is a stark contrast to reports from EU health commissioner John Dalli last month, who promised all EU member states would be fully compliant by the end of this year.

Scottish MEP Alyn Smith condemned the situation as “inexcusable”.

“Having had 12 years to get ready for this ban, it is inexcusable that one year after the final deadline passed we are hearing reports that some member states will still not be compliant.”

Mr Smith, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said it wasn’t good enough that the EC had failed to chase up non-compliant countries until after the deadline had passed, even though there was “solid intelligence” the deadline wouldn’t be met.

“It is absolutely right that the EC stands firm and doesn’t compromise in favour of lower welfare standards at this stage.

“If this piece of animal welfare legislation is not enforced then what will be next? Farrowing cages for pigs will be allowed to continue into the next year or the welfare conditions of animals being transported lowered? Our consumers will simply not accept it.”

Mr Smith said the one comfort he could scrape from the situation was that the EC had learnt a valuable lesson ahead of the sow stall ban.

Preparations have already been made so that infringement proceedings can be initiated on day one and regular updates are being demanded from EU countries who seem to be dragging their feet, he added.