EU Citizens Cleared to Petition for Ban on Animal Cages

Chickens enjoying the freedom of a grassy field.

(CN) – Europe’s administrative branch said Wednesday it will greenlight signature-gathering for a citizens’ initiative to end “inhumane treatment of farm animals” by banning the use of cages.

The “End the Cage Age” initiative proposes tasking the European Commission with introducing legislation to prohibit the use of cages for chickens, rabbits, quail, ducks and geese as well as farrowing crates for pigs and individual pens for dairy and beef calves. EU lawmakers banned so-called battery cages for laying hens in 1999, and the law finally took effect in 2012.

The law allowed for “enriched” cages for chickens, which give the birds more room than the cramped quarters of the battery cage. But groups like Compassion in World Farming say the enriched cage is still a cage and doesn’t give the hens a better life; Germany banned them several years ago.

Organizers have a year to collect at least 1 million signatures from voting-age citizens in no fewer than seven EU member states. If the signature drive is successful, the commission will then decide whether to propose the requested legislation. If it declines to do so, the commission must give detailed reasons why.

The European Citizens’ Initiative process gives EU citizens a say in setting Europe’s political and social agenda. The “End the Cage Age” initiative will join three others currently in signature-gathering mode, including an effort to give British citizens permanent EU citizenship post-Brexit, a pro-refugee humanitarian petition, and a bid to help the 46 million Europeans who don’t have enough to eat.

Meanwhile, the list of citizen initiatives rejected by the commission as impractical or illegal is long. Notable examples include a drive to recommend singing of the European anthem in Esperanto, a bid to force the European Parliament to dismantle and “self-abolish,” and an effort to stop Brexit from taking place.

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