The legal action brought against the European Commission (EC) before the General Court on its failure to uphold the commitment to the European Citizens’ Initiative End-the-Cage-Age will now supersede the complaint made to the European Ombudsman on the same matter.

The complaint

In November 2023, 57 animal protection NGOs submitted an official complaint to the European Ombudsman on the EC’s failure to uphold governing rules. Despite having generated legitimate expectations on acting on the ECI, the EC failed to come forward with a legislative proposal, putting into question the purpose of this democratic tool. This was the first time in which a large number of NGOs submitted a complaint to this inter-institutional European body.

Subsequently, an inquiry was open, in which the EC was asked to send an official reply to the complainants. The delayed response of the EC was however unsatisfactory to the complaints, providing no clear timeline or action plan on when the proposal will be published.

The court case

In March 2024,  the Citizens Committee of the ECI launched a landmark legal action against the EC at the European Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to act on its commitment, ignoring the demands of 1.4 million EU citizens.

What happens now?

The complaint at the European Ombudsman has now been closed, and animal protection NGOs will focus their efforts on the official court case. The court case has been officially logged on the 6th of May, and further details on next steps are expected in due course.

What’s at stake?

Over 300 million farm animals, including hens, quails, rabbits, sows and ducks, are confined in cages on farms in the European Union each year, with many kept like this for all or most of their life. Animals are severely restricted in their movements, prevented from exhibiting natural behaviours, with detrimental effects on their health and welfare.

Without the promised legislative proposal, the phasing out of animals in cages in the EU remains on hold, and animals continue to suffer in millions.


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