The European Commission is taking Italy and Greece to court for failing to meet cage standards for egg-laying
hens, the bloc's executive announced Thursday.
The two countries had failed to implement a 1999 European Union decision stipulating that hens should be reared in cages of at least 750 square centimetres. The deadline to do so was January 1, 2012.
According to the commission, hens should also be given "a nest-box, perches and claw-shortening devices, allowing the hens to satisfy their biological and behavioural needs."
It wrote to 13 countries last year who had failed to implement the EU directive on time. Of those, 11 countries have since complied.
In addition to welfare concerns, the commission said that failure by some member states to adopt the EU standards would lead to "market distortions and unfair competition," by putting "businesses that invested in complying with the new measures at a disadvantage."
The case is to be decided before the European Court of Justice, which could ultimately impose fines on Italy and Greece.
The commission also referred Spain to the EU's top court over tax rules for real estate that discriminate against non-residents, as well as Slovakia for refusing to pay a Christmas allowance to its pensioners living in other EU member states.
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