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Food Safety

ECI ‘End the Cage Age’

About this initiative

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) 'End the Cage Age' calls on the Commission to propose legislation to prohibit the use of cages for EU farmed animals for:

  • laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese;
  • farrowing crates for sows;
  • sow stalls, where not already prohibited;
  • individual calf pens, where not already prohibited.

Within one year, the organisers of the ECI, with the support of more than 170 non-governmental organisations across Europe, collected 1.4 million signatures from supporters throughout the EU.

Detailed information on this ECI is available on the website of the organisers and on the dedicated Commission's 'End the Cage Age' webpage.

Response of the Commission

On 30 June 2021, the Commission decided to positively respond to the ECI. In its communication, the Commission sets out plans for a legislative proposal to prohibit cages for a number of farm animals. The proposal came as part of the ongoing revision of the animal welfare legislation under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

In particular, the Commission's proposal concerns:

  • Animals already covered by legislation: laying hens, sows and calves;
  • Other animals mentioned in the ECI: rabbits, pullets, layer breeders, broiler breeders, quail, ducks and geese.

For these animals, the Commission had already asked EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) to complement the existing scientific evidence to determine the conditions needed for the prohibition of the use of cages.

The legislative proposal, which will include a proposal for the date of entry into force of the prohibition, is under preparation and will be part of the planned revision of EU animal welfare legislation.

In parallel to the legislation and to facilitate a balanced and economically viable transition to cage-free farming, the Commission is seeking and assisting specific supporting measures in key related policy areas, such as trade and research and innovation.

In particular, the new Common Agricultural Policy provides financial support and incentives – such as the new eco-schemes instrument – to help farmers upgrade to more animal-friendly facilities in line with the new standards.

Additionally, Member States can draw from the Just Transition Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Facility to support farmers in the adaptation to cage-free systems.

Next steps

The revision of the EU Animal Welfare legislation is already on-going as part of the objectives under the Farm to Fork Strategy. The “phasing out” of cages is also included in this process.

The Commission is currently carefully assessing important aspects to ensure that the transition to cage-free farming is sustainable for the agricultural sector and for our food systems, including food security. 

The preliminary results of the ongoing impact assessment show that the transition to cage-free systems demands the adaptation of several farming parameters, such as enriching the environment of the animals, and providing them with more space, to secure improved welfare conditions for the animals.

Further consultations are needed concerning the costs, the appropriate length of the transitional period and the relevant measures at import. 

Preparatory work will therefore continue, including in the context of the strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU, which started in  January 2024. 

Supporting measures

Scientific opinions were adopted by EFSA on the welfare on farm of pigs (adopted in 2022), broilers, addressing also broiler breeders (2022), laying hens, addressing also layer breeders and pullets (2022), ducks, geese and quail (2023) and of calves (2023). 

A pilot project “Best Practice Hens” implemented from 2021 to 2023, aimed to help egg producers meet market demand by providing practical guidance on how to transition to alternative, higher-welfare cage-free systems. Materials developed under this project (e.g. a guidance document, practice abstracts and videos) are published on the dedicated website. 

Press release

Please see the press release from 30 June 2021.


On the occasion of the adoption of its communication on ‘End the Cage Age’, the Commission has released a video.