2nd September 2011
I have repeatedly warned about the dangers of unfair competition for British egg farmers and welcome today's (Friday) British parliamentary committee report on the EU's Welfare of Laying Hens Directive.

New EU rules, which come into force on January 1 2012, are designed to improve conditions for battery hens. The report warns that about a third of Europe’s egg production will not comply with the new welfare standards by that date.

Ashley Fox, MEP for the South West of England, said: "British farmers shouldn't have to face unfair competition from abroad. European farmers have had 12 years in which to get their house in order. Our farmers have done the right thing, and played by the rules; they should not be punished for doing so. The EU must not let other countries dodge their responsibilities and punish local farmers.

“Colleagues of mine have long been warning of defunct British battery cages being bought up by farmers in Eastern Europe to be used in defiance of the Directive. If the European Commission lets the deadline slip then this will be a classic case of the UK dutifully following the rules, while many other EU states pick and choose when to comply. The Commission must stop being chicken and enforce the January 2012 deadline."

Today's report, published by the Commons Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs warns that the European Commission is sleepwalking into a commercial disaster which could result in unfair competition for UK egg producers.

It calls on the UK Government to press for an intra-community trade ban on the export of eggs and egg products and presses the EU Commission to initiate infraction proceedings against member states where egg producers fail to comply with the new directive once in force.

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