Philip Lymbery | A Landmark Day For Farm Animals
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A Landmark Day For Farm Animals

Yesterday I was thrilled to be in Brussels along with other NGO leaders, supporters and MEPs to celebrate achieving a record-breaking European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition and inspiring a continent to stand up for an end to cages.

More than 170 organisations amassed 1.6 million signatures on the petition, sending a resounding message to the European Commission that cage cruelty must stop. It’s important to remember that an ECI is not just another petition. It is more than that. It is a mass petition mechanism by which Europe’s citizens call on the European Commission to propose legislation. One that puts a legal requirement on the Commission to respond.

Amassing so many signatures on a successful ECI gives us a tremendous platform to lobby for change. A strong and tangible demonstration of public opinion.

Positioning ourselves with banners and video screens opposite the EU Commission and EU Council buildings we sent a strong message that a continent now expects legislation to end the use of cages for all farm animals.

Standing alongside our eye-catching ECI mascot, a 10-metre sculpture of a pig jumping to freedom, I was honoured to be participating in one of the most uplifting days for farm animals.

I was heartened by the passionate speeches of so many NGO leaders and MEPs.

Eleonora Evi and Anja Hazekamp (MEPs). Other speakers included Martina Stephany, Four Paws; Celia Nyssens, European Environmental Bureau and Nicole van Gemert, Foodwatch Netherlands

Eleonora Evi, MEP, Vice President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup said: “Today we’re celebrating a record breaking achievement. Over 1.6 million ctizens from all over Europe have said loud and clear: We want animals out of cages now! Together with other MEPs, we will make sure that the European Commission stops ignoring the demands of it’s citizens and that it bans cages in farming.”

Anja Hazekamp, MEP, President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup stated: “The EU claims to have the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but still locks up animals in cages. Hundreds of millions of farm animals in the EU suffer daily, unable to express their natural behaviour. It’s high time the EU entered the 21st century. The torture of these innocent, sentient beings must end, once and for all.”

Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals said, “We are incredibly proud and delighted to witness the enormous success… The timing is perfect, with the new European Parliament and Commission just taking the helm. We trust that they will take the opinion of more than 1.6 million citizens very seriously.”

Every year over 300 million animals in Europe spend all, or a significant part, of their lives imprisoned in cages. Egg-laying hens and rabbits raised for meat are kept in space about the area of an A4 sheet of paper, and almost all sows spend half of every year inside cages, in which they cannot even turn around. This causes tremendous suffering, as these sentient beings cannot perform most of their natural behaviours.

Huge thanks to each and everyone involved in bringing about this monumental show of compassion; to the 170 organisations, all of their staff and supporters; to the MEPs, celebrities and thought-leaders who have backed this campaign.

Reaching more than a million signatures is a major milestone; our next stop is implore politicians of all persuasions to bring forward new legislation. Only decisive legislative action can now match public aspirations to make cage cruelty history.

It’s long past time for the EU to end the cage age.