Pigs caged on pig farm

End the Cage Age

Almost 1.4 million citizens have called to end the caging of farm animals in Europe 


Factory farming is a large-scale animal cruelty operation far beyond our imagination. Scared, abused and stressed, animals in cages are subjected to often short and extremely miserable lives. From cage to slaughter, many of them never see the light of day. Their dirty, cramped cages barely leave them room to move, to spread their legs or wings and many caged animals have to fight over the little space that they have. 

In many cage farms systems, dead or dying animals are simply left next to their terrified live companions, posing not only a health hazard but proving the inhumanity of this practice.

Cage farming systems dominate animal agriculture industries around the world, including Australia, where factory farming is common in the production of eggs and meat. Starting from Europe, FOUR PAWS supports the global campaign calling for the world to ‘End the Cage Age.’

About the European Citizens Initiative (ECI)

The “End the Cage Age” Initiative asked for a ban on all caged farming and to move towards cage free solutions – the European Citizens Initiative received unprecedented public support. On September 11th 2019, the EU Petition officially closed and following the required signature validation, almost 1,400,000 citizens signed against cages! The hearing saw Members of Parliament across most political fractions endorsing the initiative and calling for a cage-free Europe. In the European Union, 180 million hens, 112 million rabbits, 40 million ducks and geese, 10 million pigs and 1.2 million calves are still confined to cages today, but if the ECI succeeds, this won’t be the case much longer. 

Timeline of the ECI

The progressive steps towards the end of cage keeping of farm animals in Europe 


October: Legislation revision of cage keeping shelved!

The Commission promised to deliver proposals to ‘End the Cage Age’, in line with the demands of 1.4 million European citizens, by the end of 2023. Yet, in early October Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, wrote to MEPs indicating the European Commission will not deliver fully on its animal welfare legislative reforms. Only 1 of the 4 legislation proposals will go forward this year. We must ensure that the Commission know this is unacceptable! Millions of European Citizens demanded for change and now the Commission must keep its word.

Pigs crammed together in a small cage

Legislative proposal by the Commission is expected in the second half of 2023 

Three major EU legislations effecting farm animal welfare in the EU are under revision and a fourth one will be newly developed by the European Commision. Now that the revision process is ongoing, and we must ensure that the new legislation will indeed bring cage keeping to an end and go beyond just that by establishing high standards for animal welfare in farming and setting a frame for the future of farm animal legislation in the European Union.

Chicken in dark and tiny cages

September – Cage keeping remains on the agenda: Commission publishes Fitness Check on the EU animal welfare legislation 

In September 2022, the Fitness Check was concluded. Its results confirmed the need to revise and modernise the EU animal welfare legislation and provided a basis for this revision. The Components of the Fitness Check were: an Inception Impact Assessment Roadmap presenting the policy options envisaged to be examined in the Impact Assessment. It covered four areas of animal welfare: at farm level, during transport, at slaughter, and animal welfare labelling. Then, a public consultation was held from October 2021 to January 2022 to gather views and experience of citizens and stakeholders on the fitness of the current rules and on how they could be improved. 
With almost 60,000 citizens and stakeholders contributing to the public survey initiated by the commission - The fitness check revealed that there is still a sub-optimal level of welfare of animals in the EU and that enforcement of current rules is insufficient to ensure the level of animal welfare expected by today’s citizens. The public survey demonstrates 92% of respondents think that current legislation does not ensure adequate and uniform protection of all animal species in need. 

Calf inside a dark farm

Major EU Member States support ban on cages for farmed animals: position paper on animal welfare legislation revision drafted 

The position paper, submitted by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, was discussed in the AGRIFISH Committee and urges the European Commission to take a set of concerns into consideration when revising farm animal welfare legislation in the upcoming fitness check. 

Sheep on live animal transport

EU Commission commits to ban cages in the EU! 

The European Citizens Initiative (ECI) End the Cage Age was successful, and the European Commission (EC) promised caged farming will be phased out across the EU, with the revised legislation entering into force latest 2027. The Commission will present a proposal on the phasing out of cages by the end of 2023. A ban of cages should enter into force in 2027. Strategies will be developed to support farmers and producers to transition away from caged farming. 

Rabbits in small cages

Motion for a Resolution by the Parliament: Non-binding resolution passed as 558 MEPs voted in favour of an end to the use of cages 

In response to over one million European citizens demanding an end of the use of cages in the Europeans Citizens Initiative, the European Parliament overwhelmingly agreed to a ban on the use of cages in animal agriculture by 2027. With 558 MEPs voted in favour of the ban, with 37 against and 85 abstentions, EU Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides remarked “Our rules need to change and that is a very clear call from our citizens”. 

Dairy cows in factory farming

Big success for the End the Cage Age European Citizens Initiative 

The European Parliament passed a resolution on the “End the Cage Age” European Citizens Initiative (ECI) and puts further pressure on the European Commission to improve welfare standards across the EU. The Members of the European Parliament join 1.4 million EU citizens, over 170 organisationsscientists and celebrities in demanding an end to caged farming of animals in the EU. 

Intensive farming of pigs

Thank you so much for your support! A historic moment for animals 

On World Farm Animal Day (2nd October), The European Citizens Initiative was submitted to the European Parliament with a total of 1,397,113 validated signatures across Europe (exceeding the 1 million threshold). This is the third highest signature count in the history of European Citizens’ Initiatives. Find out more here. 

Pigs in factory farming

Launch of the European Citizen Initiative End the Cage Age 

FOUR PAWS join forces with over 100 other animal welfare and environmental organisations EU-wide to launch the End the Cage Age European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

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EU-wide regulations needed for the end of the cage age


The impact of “End the Cage Age” is already noticeable in some EU member states. Most recently, the Czech Republic called on the EU Commission during an Agriculture Council meeting in September to submit a proposal to ban the production of eggs from laying hens in cages in the EU by 2030, which is supported by Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Sweden and Slovakia. Moreover, the Czech Parliament also voted for a ban of the cage keeping of laying hens from 2027 onwards. As 84 per cent of the laying hens in the country are kept in cages, the ban will reduce the suffering of 4.5 million animals.

Still, half of the commercial egg-laying hens in the EU are cruelly kept in cages, with 90 per cent of the laying hens in Lithuania kept in cages, 86 per cent in Poland and 88 per cent in Spain.

“Laying hens are only one example. Pigs, rabbits, ducks and quails also spend their entire lives locked up in cages in dire conditions. Between birth and slaughter, many of them never see daylight. Their small, dirty cages leave them hardly any room to move, nor to engage in any natural behaviour. A life in a cage is no life at all. Following the success of the ECI and forward-thinking steps in some countries, we prompt all EU member states to follow suit. Only an EU-wide cage ban can improve the lives of these animals in the long term. It is time to leave the “cage age” behind us once and for all,” 

Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS in Brussels. 

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