December 24, 2012
Fourteen EU Member States May Fail to Meet Deadline for Implementation of Sow Stall Ban
– In 2001, the European Union decided to phase-out the use of individual stalls for pregnant sows, except for the first four weeks of gestation and one week before farrowing. Under the terms of Council Directive 2008/120/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs, the ban on sow stalls was applicable to newly built or rebuilt holdings from 1st January 2003. The deadline for converting all other existing pig farms to group housing systems is 1st January 2013.
Despite having over a decade to implement this legislation, Humane Society International is appalled to learn that it is likely that fourteen of the 27 EU Member States will still fail to meet the deadline. These countries are: Italy, Poland, Cyprus, Finland, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, France, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
HSI contends that failure to properly implement the EU Pig Directive will result in:
- The continued and unnecessary suffering of pigs kept in confinement systems that are severely detrimental to their welfare and health;
- Inequalities in the internal market that will place pig producers in Member States who have properly applied (or even exceeded) the requirements of the Directive at a competitive disadvantage to those who have failed to do so.
- The undermining of the credibility of EU animal welfare legislation. Many Member States had already failed to meet the 1st January 2012 deadline for the EU ban on battery cages for laying hens.
One of the key failings of both the Pig and Laying Hen Directives was that these did not include any milestones that Member States must reach in phasing out existing housing systems, nor is there any legal requirement for Member States to report on the state of play until the legislation fully enters into force.
Thus far the European Commission has had to rely on the Member State authorities’ projections with regard to compliance. Several of the countries listed above, namely Germany, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands, had previously reported to the Commission that they expected their pig producers to comply with the EU Pig Directive on time.
HSI urges the European Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against and impose penalties on all Member States found not to be compliant with Council Directive 2008/120/EC.
Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — on the Web at hsi.org.