Unhappy Hens Lay More EU Troubles for BulgariaBulgaria in EU | April 17, 2012, Tuesday // 10:07| 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
Bulgaria, along with another eleven EU member states, risks to draw Brussels wrath for failing to comply with its hen welfare standards by the end-May deadline.
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.
But a source close to the case told AFP that only Romania appeared to have acted on the warning, while Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal needed "to make extra efforts".
Those countries risk receiving before the summer a final warning, known as "a reasoned opinion", and then be taken to court.
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.
Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov vowed at the beginning of February that the country will comply with EU hen welfare standards by April 2012.
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.
The Socialist opposition has vowed to call for Naydenov's resignation if Bulgaria gets fined over the issue.