A resolution passed on January 25 by the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee calls on rabbit farmers to phase out conventional battery cages and replace them with healthier but affordable alternatives, such as park or pen farming systems.

MEPs said that improving rabbits’ welfare and living conditions would help prevent disease, thus reducing the need for intensive use of antibiotics that might end up in the human food chain.

“The mere fact that after so many years we are finally talking about minimum standards for the protection of rabbits is a success. Today we made progress in the right direction, but ideally we need binding EU rules. The fight for rabbit-specific EU legislation will continue”, said rapporteur Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE).

According to a European Parliament press release, the draft non-legislative resolution was approved by 29 votes in favour to seven against, with nine abstentions. It will be put to a vote in the full House in March.

However, an amendment calling for EU legislation on minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits was rejected by a single vote (21 in favour, 22 against, two abstentions).