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Eggs from illegal battery hens should be banned across the EU, says Liz

December 2, 2011 12:45 AM

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne is backing a cross-party call in the European Parliament protesting that egg farmers who have spent millions to give hens more space face illegal competition from EU countries which have kept cruel battery cages.Battery hen cages are banned across the EU from January 1st 2012

The West Midlands MEP is backing a Parliamentary Written Declaration demanding a trade ban within the EU of all egg products from EU countries that have failed to comply with the Laying Hens Directive by January 1st 2012.

The Laying Hens Directive was approved in 1999, giving member states a generous 12 years to introduce "enriched" larger cages that give hens space to perch and stretch their wings.

Farmers in the UK and elsewhere have spent millions of pounds to comply and improve the welfare of their hens. But as the deadline approaches, it is clear that several EU member states, including Belgium, Poland, Hungary and Greece, have failed to enforce the law, with a high proportion of eggs still produced from cruel battery units.

Local Lib Dem MEP Liz Lynne, a longstanding supporter of tougher animal welfare measures, said: "It is a disgrace that producers who have complied with the law by January 1st will then face unfair and illegal competition from cheaper battery eggs.

"Consumers are strongly against battery farming for eggs, so the law should be enforced properly.

"It is time the European Commission gets tough with heavy fines on countries which have not complied with all parts of the Directive.

"I also support the call for an official intra-Community trade ban on egg products from EU battery hens after January 1st and more frequent inspections to ensure the law is applied.

"I hope every British MEP from all parties signs this declaration."

The Declaration, similar to an early day motion in Westminster, needs 369 signatures to be adopted by the European Parliament.

Lib Dem MEPs had earlier called on the UK government to go it alone if necessary and ban EU battery eggs or egg products next year unilaterally, even if it risked subsequent court action.

ENDS

Note:
0046/2011 Written declaration on the marketing of eggs from hens housed in outlawed cages

The European Parliament,
-having regard to Council Directive 1999/74/EC, which introduced a ban on the use of battery cages for the rearing of laying hens,
-having regard to Commission Regulation 589/2008/EC on rules for the marketing standards for eggs,
-having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. is concerned that some Member States will not implement Directive 1999/74/EC by the required date, despite a phase-in period of 12 years,
B. is concerned that egg producers who have complied with Directive 1999/74/EC should not be penalised through illegal competition, especially concerning imported eggs and egg products from third countries,
C. whereas European consumers will not accept the continuation of battery farming for eggs,

1. Calls on the Commission to launch swift and effective infringement proceedings with heavy and dissuasive fines if there is a lack of compliance with all elements of the Directive;
2. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce an intra-Community trade ban on all eggs not in compliance with Directive 1999/74 as of 1 January 2012;
3. Calls on the Commission to increase the number of FVO inspection missions in 2012;
4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council and Commission.