© Andrew Skowron / Otwarte Klatki
The End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has closed with over 1.5 million signatures asking the EU to put an end to the confinement of farmed animals.
With the largest European petition ever for farm animal welfare ending at 23:59 last night, today is one of the most significant days for farm animals that the world has ever seen. At the time of writing, more than 1,500,000 people have signed, with the final total still being counted as paper petitions continue to pour in from the public.
Over 300 million pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, quails and calves across the EU are still reared in cage systems that are designed to cram in the highest number of animals possible for the sake of maximising production. But such systems deny sentient creatures the most basic of freedoms, such as the space to move; and science and even practice have shown that cages are outdated and obsolete.
The End The Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative was launched in September 2018 by Compassion in World Farming in partnership with Eurogroup for Animals and over 170 other animal welfare and environmental organisations across the EU – the largest ever coalition in the name of farm animal welfare.
To hit the 1 million signature target – the official number needed for a successful ECI – the campaign held events throughout the EU, collaborated with influential MEPs and celebrities, launched undercover investigations into the caged farming of calves, rabbits and sows and unveiled a new digital campaigning platform that allowed the public to build their own signature collection pages. These actions and activities helped to unite a continent against cruel cages.
“Of all the terrible ways we control animals, the cage is one of the most primitive and barbaric,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals. “With this tremendous backing, the key decision makers EU Commission and Council have to understand just how important this matter is to EU citizens, and start the ball rolling towards this seismic shift in our food and farming systems.”
Few ECIs ever reach the required one million signatures, so today’s count represents a monumental step on the path towards sparing animals the enormous suffering they experience now in barren, overcrowded cages, and even towards ending factory farming. Within three months of receiving the signatures today, EU Commission representatives must meet the organisers, adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens’ initiative, if any, and the reasons for doing so – or not doing so.
Because this is an official EU initiative, each signature goes through a verification process – which can make or break the ECI. A total count of signatures may include up to 20% of invalid data, such as duplicates, incorrect ID numbers or dates of birth, the wrong resident status or even illegible handwriting, so a buffer of at least 300,000 signatures was needed.
With more than 1.5 million signatures so far, End the Cage Age’s success should be more than enough to persuade the European Commission to start the legislative procedure to end the use of cages for farm animals across the continent.
“Today we have crossed the finish line in the biggest political push in farm animal welfare history. But the fight to get animals out of cages isn’t over yet,” says Reineke Hameleers. “Now it’s time for the Commission to make the changes that the citizens demand and bring us closer to the day when cages are relegated to the history books.”
Vienna Leigh, Senior Communications Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 207 7715