Breach of Directive 1999/74/EC on the protection of laying hens

11 April 2013    
Fiona Hall (ALDE)


In January 2013, the Commission gave its answer to a parliamentary question (E-010256/2012) regarding the ban on battery cages for egg-laying hens in the EU.

With regard to Member States failing to comply with the minimum standards for the protection of laying hens, the Commission answered that it expected to be able to close Member States’ 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 unenriched cages continues to persist.

Which Member State cases did the Commission close this year in view of evidence of compliance, and which Member States does the Commission consider still to be breaching the welfare standards for laying hens?

Will the Commission be referring to the Court of Justice any Member States which have still not met the ban on battery cages? If not, can the Commission give reasons for this and detail what action it will take to enforce the requirements laid down in Directive 1999/74/EC?

30 May 2013    
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

On 25 April 2013 the Commission referred Italy and Greece to the European Court of Justice for their failure to fully implement the requirements of Council Directive 1999/74/EC(1).

The other 11 Member States against which an infringement procedure was launched in 2012 have declared that they are compliant having fully phased out unenriched cages for laying hens. The Commission has closed the majority of these infringement cases but is still in the process of assessing the evidence demonstrating compliance provided by two of these Member States. Thus in total 4 infringement cases remain open.

(1)    Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens; OJ L 203, 3.8.1999, p. 53.