Fury over Europe’s failure on pig welfare rules

The EU has begun action against four countries over pig rules. Picture: Getty
The EU has begun action against four countries over pig rules. Picture: Getty
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A LEADING figure in the pig industry yesterday branded the inaction of EU member states over their lack of implementation of regulations on keeping sows as “disgraceful”.

Lizzie Press of the National Pig Association (NPA) revealed that 15 member states still had not complied with legislation that came into force in January last year and which had first appeared on the statute book some 12 years ago.

“It is not like it came out of the blue, the ten-year gap was to allow producers to convert their buildings to the new requirements,” she said. “It is disgraceful that there are 15 member states that are not compliant.”

Press was speaking after a decision by the European Commission to refer France, Cyprus, Greece and Belgium to the European Court of Justice if they continued to flout rules governing the use of sow stalls.

The countries singled out will now have two months to satisfy the commission of their efforts to comply with the EU rules.

Commenting on the commission’s move, Alyn Smith MEP said: “Infringement proceedings are the most substantial tool in the commission’s box and it is right that these countries still breaking the rules are now facing court action.

“I am disappointed, however, that we have taken over a year to reach this point. We have seen examples of long phase-in periods systematically exploited in order to pinch as much from the penny as possible, and so I think we need to reassess how we measure on-going progress towards full compliance if we wish to avoid these situations from reoccurring in the future. Our farmers should not be punished for other countries’ tardiness.”

Press indicated the NPA would be launching a campaign in the near future aimed at retailers ensuring their pork purchases came from compliant farms.

“Following horsegate, it has all been a bit quiet and we do not want them to become complacent in their buying,” she said.