Press Release 19.05.2021

End the caging of 300 million farm animals in the EU

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foodwatch: Commissioner for Trade Dombrovskis needs to initiate border adjustment measures                              

Brussels/Amsterdam/Berlin/Paris, 19 May 2021: he European consumer organisation foodwatch is calling on the European Commission to end the caging of all farm animals in Europe and to ensure that EU trade policy supports this ban. foodwatch is launching a campaign petition today addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Dombrovskis and President von der Leyen. The campaign follows the successful European Citizens' Initiative "End the Cage Age" and focuses on the issue that trade must not be used as an argument against the necessary improvement for animals in Europe’s farms. foodwatch is calling on the Commission to use border adjustment measures to guarantee that the end of the caging of farm animals in the EU will not be undermined by cheap imports.

The European Citizens' Initiative "End the Cage Age", supported by 170 NGOs and 1.4 million valid signatures from citizens, provides impressive proof of how much the public demands an end to the caging of 300 million farm animals across Europe. This demand is backed up by Article 13 TFEU and is both scientifically and ethically necessary. By 15 July 2021, the EU Commission will decide whether to initiate a legislative procedure to ban cage farming. Several EU Commissioners have already spoken out in favour of initiating such legislation at a hearing in the European Parliament on 15 April 2021. However there seems to be some reluctance by the Trade Commissioner.

foodwatch strongly opposes the trade policy argument that higher animal welfare standards in the EU would automatically lead to increased cheap imports from outside the EU.

"The EU has both the tools and the moral obligation to safeguard the improved treatment of animals against cheap imports from third countries," says Matthias Wolfschmidt, International Strategy Director at foodwatch International, and continues: "Border adjustment measures are the instrument to make this possible. In line with WTO rules, they can require that imports of animal products are made on the same basis of animal welfare standards that apply in the EU's internal market."

According to foodwatch, these measures to protect Europe’s farm animals must adhere to the WTO requirements and must be neither discriminatory against third countries nor protectionist. A WTO model agreement that allows the EU to ban the import of baby seal pelts, precisely on moral grounds, is the existing legal basis that the Commission must use to put the new measure in place.