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Proposal for Derogation on Cage Ban Condemned

by 5m Editor
17 August 2011, at 9:58am

BELGIUM - Derogation for the forthcoming battery cage ban in the EU by Belgian Minister Onkelinx is unacceptable and illegal, says a welfare campaigning group.

Eurogroup for Animals strictly condemns the suggestion of Belgium to allow a six-month 'period of grace' for egg producers following the introduction of the barren battery cage ban on 1 January 2012, which is in breach of the European Directive. In answer to a parliamentary question, Minister Onkelinx suggested that she could grant producers who have not changed to another system a six-month extension. This is not allowed, the Directive is very clear – from 1 January 2012, chickens cannot be kept in barren battery cages under any condition. Producers have already had 12 years to comply with this law.

Sonja Van Tichelen, director of Eurogroup for Animals, said: "We have called on the European Commission, together with our Belgian member GAIA to ensure that Belgium is stopped and ordered to conform. Commissioner Dalli has repeatedly stated that there will be no postponement or exemption and yet member states are already ignoring the deadline and making up their own rules

"Eurogroup is extremely concerned that Member States are taking unilateral decisions to postpone this ban, either by stating that they will not control the ban before a given time as is the case in Spain or like Belgium, where they have put forward their own conditions. It is appalling how Member States treat EU legislation to protect animals. Enforcement and compliance are becoming a big joke with large numbers of animals suffering as a result," concluded Ms Van Tichelen.

Eurogroup and GAIA have also called for an urgent meeting with the Belgian Minister. Minister Onkelinkx has listened to the producers but it is now time, as minister in charge of animal welfare that she listens to the animal welfare NGOs and ensures that the ban on barren battery cages is enforced on time preventing the ongoing suffering of thousands of hens.