UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman launched an attack on the proposed delay during a meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels. Several other countries, including Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands, backed her calls to ensure the ban was implemented on time. Following the UK’s lead, the proposals were defeated.
Mrs Spelman said:
“To delay implementing this ban would be enormously unfair to all the poultry keepers in the UK and other countries around Europe who have worked so hard to stop using battery cages.
“The UK industry has worked hard and made significant investments to convert out of battery cages ahead of the European deadline - so it wouldn’t be fair to them to have to compete with eggs from other European countries that haven’t converted.”
The UK has consistently called for the ban to be implemented in 2012 with strict enforcement by the EU.
From 2012 British farmers will only use, as a minimum, better welfare cages that provide laying hens more space to move about, perches and nest boxes. Free range, barn and organic systems will also be permitted.