The European Commission has announced that it has decided to refer Austria, Belgium, Greece and Italy to the European Court of Justice over their apparent failure to implement the 1999 directive setting out the minimum standards for the protection of laying hens.

All Member States were obliged to implement the directive in national law by 1 January 2002 and notify the Commission of the measures taken.

The Commission said the Member States concerned received a “reasoned opinion” in January 2003 but have still failed to implement the directive, which is why the Commission has now decided to take them to the European Court of Justice.

“This Directive was introduced in order to better protect the welfare of hens kept in battery cages and other rearing systems”, said David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. “It is imperative that Member States live up to the obligations they have undertaken.”

For more information on the directive click here