Photo © Compassion in World Farming
A total of 1,617,405 citizens have signed the EndTheCageAge European Citizens’ Initiative to make cages history for farmed animals – and yesterday NGOs, MEPs and EU citizens came together in Brussels to celebrate the closing of the campaign, which sends a strong and clear message to the EU Commission and the Council of the EU.
The support of 1.6 million citizens for this ECI, which was launched in September 2018 by Compassion in World Farming in partnership with Eurogroup for Animals and over 170 other animal welfare and environmental organisations, should persuade the European Commission to start the legislative procedure to end the use of cages for farm animals across the continent. This would have the potential to benefit 300 million farm animals a year in Europe – including sows, hens, calves, rabbits, ducks and quail, among others – by sparing them the enormous suffering they experience now in barren, often overcrowded cages.
“Of all the terrible ways we control animals, the cage is one of the most primitive and barbaric,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals. “We are incredibly proud and delighted to witness the enormous success of this sixth ECI. The timing is perfect, with the new European Parliament and Commission just taking the helm. We trust that they will take the opinion of more than 1.6 million citizens very seriously.”
Yesterday’s event took place between the EU Council and Commission buildings. Ode to the Pig, a 10-metre sculpture of a pig jumping to freedom, was on display, and videos and speeches were shown within the eyeline of the Commission and Council offices. An 18-metre circular banner with the message ‘For animals, end caged farming’, was placed in the middle of Schuman roundabout.
“The EU claims to have the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but still locks up animals in cages. Hundreds of millions of farm animals in the EU suffer daily, unable to express their natural behaviour,” said Anja Hazekamp, MEP, President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and Co-Chair of the Cage-Free Working Group. “It’s high time the EU entered the 21st century. The torture of these innocent, sentient beings must end, once and for all.”
Within three months of receiving the signatures today, EU Commission representatives must meet the organisers, adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens’ initiative, if any, and the reasons for doing so – or not doing so. The initiative must also have a full plenary hearing in the European Parliament followed by a possible vote.
“A year ago, we were contemplating taking on a challenge; an ECI to end cages for farm animals. This is no small order, considering the fact that most ECIs in the past have failed. But we came together and ushered a continent to stand up against cruelty and suffering,” said Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming and Vice-President of Eurogroup for Animals. “The hard work doesn’t stop here . Now we must make this ECI count at the heart of Brussels, in legislation.”