Urgent action needed to improve the welfare of Europe’s pigs

9 March 2012

In response to a question from Keith Taylor MEP, the European Commission has revealed that 14 member states will not be ready to comply with new legislation that will improve the lives of Europe's pigs.

Back in 2001 the European Parliament agreed to bring an end to sow stalls across the EU by 2013, by banning the use of these metal crates to confine pigs throughout their entire pregnancy.

The response from EU Commissioner Dalli states that three countries are already compliant, 22 countries are still using sow stalls and only 11 of the 25 member states will be ready when the new legislation comes into force next year.

Keith said, "The Pigs Directive gave EU farmers a generous 12 years to phase out the sow stall, therefore there is no excuse that 14 member states are expected not to be ready come January 2013.

"We have already witnessed wide-scale non-compliance of the barren battery cage ban, resulting in 84 million hens being kept in illegal cages. It is extremely disappointing that once again EU legislation is being ignored and millions of pigs could be illegally confined in sow stalls after January 2013."

A sow stall is a metal crate or cage which is so narrow that the sow cannot turn around and can only stand up and lie down with difficulty. These individual crates prevent nearly all natural activity and interaction with other pigs. Pig producers in the UK have led the way in pig welfare by banning the use of sow stalls in 1999."

Keith continued "Failure to act may result in illegal pig meat ending up on our shelves. This is unfair to consumers, disadvantages those farmers who have invested in the new law and of course lets down those pigs which the EU agreed to protect many years ago."

In the response, Commissioner Dalli stated that the Commission is using all the tools at its disposal to push Member States to reach compliance by 1 January 2013.

Keith said: "I will continue to put pressure on the European Commission to ensure EU legislation is adhered to. Member States are primarily responsible and I will be writing to all the relevant Ministers calling for full compliance of the pigs directive".

For further information on EU Pigs Directive visit: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/farm/pigs_en.htm

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