Italy and Greece are the last two countries in the EU still defying the ban on conventional cages, with an estimated 20 million birds kept in illegal systems.
The figures have been obtained by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and are understood to have been derived from a Dutch government source. The EU Commission stopped giving out official figures last year. The welfare body said it welcomed the progress that had been made since the new cage legislation took effect on 1 January 2012, at which time 14 member states with over 50 million hens were in non-compliance.
“But, more than a year after the law came into force, were are calling for urgent action over the appalling lack of progress in Greece and Italy,” said a statement.
Annamaria Pisapia, head of CIWF’s Italian office, said: “To our shame, Italy is last when it comes to getting rid of cruel barren battery cages. Italy accounts for the majority of the 20 million laying hens estimated to still be in barren cages in the EU.”
“To our shame, Italy is last when it comes to getting rid of cruel barren battery cages. Italy accounts for the majority of the 20 million laying hens estimated to still be in barren cages in the EU.”
Annamaria Pisapia, CIWF
And Olga Kikou, CIWF’s European affairs manager, described the situation in Greece is “lamentable”.
“The Greek state has to take strict measures to ensure that it does not set a bad example for Europe and to prevent sanctions, which would mean the Greek people paying for those who defy the law,” she said.
The EU Commission has indicated that it is likely to refer continuing offenders to the European Court of Justice later this month. But a court hearing is likely to take at least a year and any fine, if found guilty, will take into account the member state’s ability to pay.