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Parliamentary question - E-000321/2013Parliamentary question

Implementation of ban on individual sow stalls, in force since 1 January 2013 in accordance with Directive 2008/120/EC on the protection of pigs

Question for written answer E-000321-13
to the Commission
Rule 117
Andrea Zanoni (ALDE)

Since 1 January 2013, in all EU Member States it has been prohibited to breed sows in individual stalls, with the exception of the first four weeks of pregnancy and the week before giving birth. Sow stalls, which were banned in Sweden in 1994, in the UK in 1999 and now, at last, throughout the Union, are extremely narrow cages that act like prisons for the sows kept in them, limiting their movement to the extent that they cannot even turn around. Their movements are restricted to just a few basic steps forward or backwards. For an animal that scientific research shows to be highly active, being confined to a life in a stall is severely limiting, curtailing such natural behaviours as rooting, foraging and exploring, rolling over to cool down, huddling together with other pigs or using bedding to keep warm[1]. The impossibility of moving around in this way causes discomfort[2] and often, the sows, with nothing to do, end up biting the bars of the cage out of frustration, boredom or hunger. The ban on sow stalls, even if partial, is vital for the welfare of these animals, especially since, after their pregnancies, they are moved into equally cramped farrowing crates, where they are unable to express their fundamental natural instinct to build a nest for giving birth[3] and where they are separated from their piglets by bars.

The NGO ‘Compassion in World Farming’, which is very active in the field of animal welfare for factory farm animals, is leading the campaign ‘Project Pig — No stalling on 2013 ban’, precisely to ensure that all Member States comply with Directive 2008/120/EC on the protection of pigs in a timely manner and without delay. Indeed, it would appear that despite the fact that the ban on using individual sow stalls has now entered into force, many EU countries are not complying with it.

Can the Commission therefore say:

1. which EU countries have complied with the legislation that entered into force on

1 January 2013;

2. how it intends to ensure that the directive is enforced in full, with particular reference to the ban on using individual sow stalls for sows between the fifth week of pregnancy and the penultimate week before birth;

3. whether it has planned any spot checks in the Member States and when they will take place;

4. what action will be taken against those EU countries in which this directive and the prohibition in question are not being implemented, or are being inadequately implemented?

OJ C 346 E, 27/11/2013