Pig Welfare Remains Unresolved in Cyprus, EU Says

CYPRUS - The European Commission has asked Cyprus to take action implementing an animal welfare directive effective from 1 January this year stating among others, that sows must be kept in groups during part of their pregnancy.
calendar icon 27 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

The Commission issued a formal notice last week, asking Cyprus to "submit its observations on an identified problem regarding the application of EU law within a given time limit." Cyprus has two months to respond, Cyprus Mail reports.

Despite the 11-year-notice and funding available via the EU agricultural development scheme, Cyprus has failed to take timely action to enable pig farmers make the move from keeping pregnant sows in individual gestation stalls, to keeping them in group pens so they can move around freely during their pregnancy.

Town planning rules pose an additional problem because most pig farms need to expand to meet regulations although there is no space for them to grow. Most pig farms stand on the outskirts of Nicosia but town planning licences introduced in the 1990s have made effective enclaves of the pig farms, now surrounded by other agricultural and farming zones as well as residential areas.

And grain prices – accounting for about a third of pig farmers’ costs – surged last year.

Animal welfare campaigners have long argued that sows suffer psychologically and physically from being separated from other animals.

But many pig farms in Cyprus had not adapted to the directive by 2011, in the latest data the veterinary services would make available.

The Commission may give Cyprus another two-month deadline in a reasoned opinion, a later step where the Commission argues why member states have failed to fulfil their obligations. The Commission can also refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice that has given the EU’s administrative arm the "discretionary power in deciding whether or not to commence infringement proceedings and to refer a case to the Court.'

"The Court has also acknowledged the Commission's power to decide at its own discretion when to commence (court) action," the announcement said.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal have also been issued a formal notice.

"Member states who do not fulfil their legal obligations in this area undermine animal welfare and cause market distortions to the detriment of businesses that have invested for complying with this requirement," the Commission said.

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