Poland breaks ranks over EU cage ban

The deadline for introducing a ban on conventional egg laying cages in 2012 will receive its first major test when the EU Agriculture Council meets on 22 February.

Poland is demanding a five-year postponement of the ban until 1 January 2017, in a formal submission to be discussed at the meeting.

The Polish delegation is warning that if the ban is imposed on schedule, many egg units both in Poland and in other EU states could cease egg production.

This would lead to a shortage of eggs within the EU and a rise in imports which, says the submission, would not be subject to the same welfare and feed controls as those produced in the EU.

“As a result, these imported eggs may turn out to be of doubtful quality and the method of their production will be outside the control of EU countries.”

Imposing the ban on schedule “may turn out to be extremely unfavourable for egg consumers,” it claims.

“Furthermore, it can be expected that eggs imported from outside the EU, produced in line with lower requirements and at lower cost, will make it more difficult for EU producers who have already invested in enriched cages, to achieve a good price for their product.”

To justify the delay, Poland says that states that acceded in 2004 had five years less time than existing member states to comply with the cage ban.

It claims the amount of investment need to convert existing cage stocks would be too great, at a time when egg producers are suffering the effect of the financial crisis.

Poland has tabled figures that show that out of 591 units using caged systems, only 99 had converted to enriched and 492 had yet to convert.

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