The European Commission has sent reasoned opinions to 10 EU Member States that have failed to correctly implement the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive. Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, The Netherlands, Poland and Portugal are still allowing the use of un-enriched cages for laying hens despite the ban which came into force in January 2012. 

Sending a reasoned opinion is the next step in the procedure before referral to the EU Court of Justice. The Commission has said that it welcomes the efforts made by the Member States that have complied with the rules. However, full compliance by all Member States is essential to avoid market distortions and unfair competition. 

Member States who still allow the use of un-enriched cages put businesses that invested in complying with the new measures at a disadvantage. To demonstrate compliance, Member States will need to show that all those establishments still using un-enriched cages have been transformed or closed. If the 10 Member States to which the Commission has sent a reasoned opinion fail to inform the Commission within two months of the measures taken to ensure full compliance, the Commission could refer the case to the Court of Justice. 

No reasoned opinions have been sent to Bulgaria, Latvia or Romania, as the Commission is assessing the additional information provided by these countries, which states that they are fully compliant with the new rules. 

“This continual flouting of the law is completely unacceptable and there is no adequate excuse," said Dil Peeling, director of public affairs at animal charity Compassion in World Farming. "I am delighted that the European Commission is continuing to enforce the ban on the barren battery cage ban and fully support their issuing of reasoned opinions.”