Twelve member countries have told Brussels they will be fully compliant with the partial stalls ban when it is introduced in January 2013. Seven say they will be at least 90 percent compliant. Five say they will be 70-89 percent compliant. Three will be 28-60 percent compliant. These official figures show significant and widespread law-breaking will take place on Europe's pig farms in nine months.
At a meeting in Brussels today Laurence Bonafos of the Commission's health and consumer department promised the Commission was ready to launch infringement proceedings.
She said the main category of non-compliant holdings was 10-99 sows and significant effort would be needed to upgrade these units.
She said non-compliance would distort competition and admitted traceability was a problem as no mandatory labelling would be in place to indicate which pigmeat was compliant and which came from units where sows were still in stalls.
Bonafos explained the complexity of the European Commission infringement process which can take up to two years before it begins to bite.
She hoped it would not be necessary to start mass infringement proceedings as it would not be good for the European Union's image if it was seen to be taking the majority of its member countries to court.
She admitted that if a member country really wanted to, it could drag out infringement proceedings for three or even four years "but we will do everything possible to ensure they do stick to the deadlines".
Looking at pigmeat supply post January 2013, the Commission's agriculture department said the European Union was 110 percent self-sufficient in pigmeat and whilst the sow herd would continue to shrink, more meat was being produced from fewer sows.
Source: National Pig Association