In order to improve the welfare of pigs, Council Directive 2008/120/EC requires that sows are kept in groups and not in individual stalls during part of their pregnancy. Entry into force of this rule was on 1 January 2013, following a 12 year transition period. Following the formal request for compliance, sent to nine Member States in February 2013 (see press release), the Commission has today issued reasoned opinions for four of them which appear to still not have fully enforced the requirement on group housing of sows as laid down in the Directive: Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and France1.

Should these countries fail to comply with EU law within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Commission has sent letters of formal notice to two other Member States – Slovenia and Finland, for failure to fully enforce the rule on sow stalls. The next step for these countries, should they fail to comply within two months, would be a reasoned opinion.