Bulgaria Vows to Comply with EC Hens Directive by AprilBulgaria in EU | February 10, 2012, Friday // 16:24| views
Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov has assured that Bulgaria will oust "un-enriched" cages before the end-May 2012 deadline. Photo by dariknews.bg
Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov has vowed that Bulgaria will comply with EU hen welfare standards by April 2012.
In end-January, the European Commission launched infringement procedures against 13 EU member states, including Bulgaria, over their failure to implement EU legislation concerning the welfare of laying hens.
In Friday statement in Parliament, the Agriculture Minister pledged that Bulgaria would manage to implement the ban on the so-called "un-enriched" cages for laying hens before the end-May 2012 deadline.
Responding to a question of an MP from the left-wing Coalition for Bulgaria, he said that out of a total of 3 million hens, 500 000 were living in substandard conditions.
"A total of BGN 50 M has been allocated to ensure compliance with EU animal welfare legislation. I defended the interests of Bulgarian business," Naydenov declared.
He further argued that an easier way to go about this would have been to kill the hens living in poor conditions, thereby ensuring compliance with the EU law but also bringing the business sector to its knees.
Penko Angelov, who brought up the issue, warned that Bulgaria would face a serious penalty if it failed to abide by EU animal welfare standards.
He vowed to demand Naydenov's resignation if Bulgaria got fined over the mater and expressed doubts that the BGN 50 M in question would suffice to implement the standards.
"You call for my resignation on a daily basis, and if you do this on the grounds of the hens' issue, I will not be surprised", Naydenov responded.
Starting January 1, 2012, an EC Directive requires that all laying hens must be kept in "enriched cages" with extra space to nest, scratch and roost, or in alternative systems.
According to the Directive, cages can be used only if they provide each hen with at least 750 cm? of cage area, a nest-box, litter, perches and clawshortening devices, allowing the hens to satisfy their biological and behavioral needs.