Greece has been found guilty by the European Court of Justice of being in breach of the welfare of hens directive, as it failed to ensure that laying hens were no longer kept in cages by the 2012 deadline, despite having more than a decade to change its production systems.

The court has ordered Greece to pay costs, but no fine has been imposed, although under EU rules this could occur at a later date. The result echoes the case against Italy heard by the court earlier this year.

In response to the ruling, welfare groups have argued that the court is undermining EU welfare legislation making the value of adherence to cage ban legislation “questionable”.

Advertisement

Some farmers groups have argued that “Greece has got away with producing illegal eggs for so long with absolutely no consequences for the country or producers,” and that failure to comply with legislation has created an unfair playing field in the egg market.

The European Commission announced in April this year that Greece and Italy would be taken to court for failing to implement Directive 1999/74/EC banning “un-enriched cages”, stating that full compliance by member states was essential to avoid distortions and unfair competition. It went on to say that despite repeated calls by the commission to address the situation, both countries had failed to adequately comply with EU law.