The EU May Soon Ban The Use Of Cages In Animal Farming. Here's Why

Earlier this week, the European Parliament responded to a petition titled "End the Cage Age" by voting to demand the banning of cages in animal agriculture by 2027. The petition, as Politico derisively put it back in May, "seeks to return the EU to a bucolic idyll of happy farm animals gambolling in open fields by legislating to move farmers to alternative production systems such as free-range and organic agriculture." 

However Politico's writers may view the idea, the initiative overwhelmingly passed with, according to a press release published by the European Parliament, 558 votes in favor to 37 against, and 85 abstentions. The reason for the vote was that End the Cage Age was a European Citizens' Initiative, a political mechanism that allows citizens to directly propose an act of legislation if they can receive 1 million signatures on a petition for such an act. End the Cage Age had received over 1.6 signatures, according to the campaign, and 1.4, according to the European Parliament's press release.

Other aspects of the act, as reported by Reuters, include bans of other acts of cruelty that the use of cages epitomize. The force-feeding of poultry to produce foie gras would be banned as well.

Will this vote actually result in anything?

The vague language of voting to demand the banning may cause skepticism in some readers who would want to know whether caging animals will be banned or not. Part of the obscurity is that the European Parliament voted for the demand, but the European Commission has yet to respond. 

In the more specific text of the press release, the Parliament has asked the Commission to draft the legislative proposals. The reason that the legislative body has voted to ask the executive body to submit legislation is that the European Commission, as the website for the European Parliament explains, is the only body that holds the right to initiate legislation. Asking the Commission to introduce such legislation is the closest that the Parliament can get to initiating the process themselves.

In Politico's report of the vote, Stella Kyriakides, the EU Food Safety Commissioner, stated, "The Commission is looking at these requests, taking into account the need for a science-based approach and the EU's obligation under the WTO." How such considerations will affect the rather straightforward demand to ban the caging of animals is yet to be seen.

Still, with both a petition signed by over a million citizens and the legislative body backing the initiative, no matter how symbolically, the Commission will likely feel the pressure to come up with something in the coming weeks.