The European Commission has pledged to table a legislative proposal by the end of 2023, to prohibit – on a phased-out basis – the use of caged farming across Europe.

It is anticipated that this caged-farming legislation will come into effect from 2027, on the back of a recent European Citizens Incentive (ECI).

Specifically, the commission’s proposal will concern:

  • Animals already covered by legislation such as laying hens, sows and calves;
  • Other animals such as rabbits, pullets, layer breeders, broiler breeders, quail, ducks and geese (specifically mentioned in the ECI).

In relation to these animals, the commission has already asked the European Food Safety Authority to complement existing scientific evidence to determine the conditions needed for the prohibition of cages.

Farm to Fork and CAP

As part of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the commission has already committed to propose a revision of animal-welfare legislation, including on transport and rearing, which is currently undergoing a fitness check, to be finalised by the summer of 2022.

To facilitate a balanced and economically viable transition to cage-free farming, the commission has said it will seek support across key related policy areas, such as trade and research and innovation.

In particular, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will provide financial support and incentives – such as the new eco schemes instrument – to help farmers upgrade to more animal-friendly facilities in line with the new standards.

Funding for ending caged-farming

Additionally, member states can draw from the Just Transition Fund and Recovery and Resilience Facility to support farmers in the adaptation to cage-free systems.

Since an end to caged farming will require changes to current farming systems, the commission said it will consider the socio-economic and environmental implications of the measures to be taken and the benefits to animal welfare in an impact assessment to be completed before the end of 2022.

A public consultation will be carried out, at the latest, by early 2022 and the commission will assess the feasibility of the proposed legislation coming into effect from 2027.