• John Dalli, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, during an appearance before the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee today (5th October), has made it clear that the Commission is abandoning British egg producers by making no serious attempt to ensure that the battery cage ban will be properly enforced or that consumers will be made aware that they are buying battery eggs after 1st January 2011.
This has brought a furious response from Committee member Stuart Agnew MEP (UKIP), who represents the East of England and is a free range egg producer himself.
Mr Agnew said: “British egg producers have been completely let down. All the Commissioner has done is to promise that an inspectorate will be created and that infraction proceedings will be started against non-compliant countries. These measures will be of little or no help because firstly, the inspectorate will hardly know where to start as no fewer than five member states, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Spain and Greece have to date provided the Commission with absolutely no information about their efforts to comply with the legislation. Secondly, infraction proceedings are very long winded and may eventually produce fines that these countries are likely to regard as a ‘licence fee’ to allow them to go on producing battery eggs.
“Worse still, Mr Dalli told us that it is the responsibility of ‘member states to ensure compliance, not the Commission’ which is a total abrogation of responsibility for legislation it generated. This effectively means that British egg producers, who have invested £400 million of their own money to comply with the ban are being abandoned and many could go out of business in the face of unfair competition from battery egg producers in other EU member states. It becomes more than ever vital that the UK Government takes urgent steps to ensure that imported eggs are legal.”