Battery cage egg production


2 November 2012      

Diane Dodds (NI)


New regulations on battery cage egg production came into force on 1 January 2012, with unenriched cages being expected to have been phased out by that date. The United Kingdom is fully compliant with these new rules, at a major cost to local producers.

On 27 January 2012 the Commission, via a letter of formal notice, called on non-compliant Member States to take action to implement the ban on unenriched cages for laying hens. Can the Commission outline what progress has been made since this letter was issued? Can it also state what, if any, infringement proceedings have been brought for non-compliance, and, if so, against which Member States?


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

15 January 2013    

Directive 1999/74/EC(1) laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens requires as of 1 January 2012 that all laying hens must be kept in ‘enriched cages’ with extra space to nest, scratch and roost, or in alternative systems. A letter of formal notice for non-compliance to this rule was sent to Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania on 27 January 2012.

Since then, reasoned opinions were sent to Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal on 21 June 2012(2) for still tolerating the use of un-enriched cages for laying hens at this time. Romania was recently inspected by the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office and the situation is currently assessed. The cases against Bulgaria, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Portugal were closed on 21 November 2012 on evidence that compliance was reached. The Commission expects to be able to close further cases on evidence of compliance in January and February 2013, but may also refer others to the Court of Justice of the European Union if the use of un-enriched cages continues to persist. 

(1)    OJ L 203, 3.8.1999, p. 53.
(2)    See press release available at: