Size of cages for laying hens

3 June 2013    
Sophie Auconie (PPE)

Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 lays down criteria for the protection of laying hens. The directive defines in particular the standards that systems must respect, whether they use rearing in enriched cages, unenriched cages or alternative cageless systems.

The ban on unenriched cages, which entered into force on 1 January 2012, created at the time considerable imbalances on the egg market, particularly for biscuit producers, who faced an increase in the price of eggs.

— More than one year after the entry into force of this ban, what stage has been reached in the implementation of this provision in the Member States?

— Have the imbalances on the markets in connection with this ban been reabsorbed since then?

— What legislative provisions does the United States have in place in this regard, and could European poultry farmers be at a disadvantage should the EU and the United States agree to conclude a free trade agreement?

31 July 2013    
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answers to written questions E‐8882/2011, E-11338/2012 and E-4668/2013(1).

The egg sector is coming back to normality. In June 2013 shell egg prices have been stabilised at the level of the average price of the five year period 2008-2012 and are 25% lower than in the exceptional year 2012. As regards eggs for breaking for the processing industry, since the middle of 2012 prices have fallen more than 30%.

Un-enriched cages are today permitted in the USA however, a bill [Bill Text 112th Congress (2011-2012) H.R.3798.IH — Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments] was introduced in 2012 proposing to ban them. Its current status since August 2012 is: ‘Referred to the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry’. The main objective of a possible Free Trade Agreement (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is to enhance the economic developments in both territories leading to extra jobs and economic growth, while safeguarding public and animal health and other social values. The EU aims at establishing cooperation mechanisms which will, inter alia, discuss equivalence on animal welfare between the two Parties.