New Year's Day 2012 will herald a new dawn for hundreds of millions of hens in the European Union, thanks to a new law banning cruel barren battery cages.
After decades of campaigning, Compassion and our supporters can take a moment as the new year arrives to reflect on the fantastic success of what has been a hard fought campaign.
To spread the Christmas cheer, Compassion's ex-battery hen, Hetty, visited the EU Commission's Representation in the UK to say thank you to the Commission for standing firm on the ban in the face of pressure throughout the year to postpone the new law, or to allow some countries to flout it.
The Commission has said it will impose fines on countries that are still not compliant with the ban on January 1st 2012.
"Animal lovers will have even more reason to celebrate on New Year's Day, as this historic legislation comes into force," says Emma Slawinski, Senior Campaigns Manager. "It's not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant victories for animal welfare ever in the EU. Everyone who has helped to keep the pressure up and ensure this ban comes into force on time and in full can be very proud of their contribution."
Despite the celebrations, there will still be hens in barren battery cages in non-compliant EU countries in the New Year and, as well as working to ensure these states enforce the ban as soon as possible, Compassion is warning consumers to be vigilant when buying food products with eggs in. The easiest way to make sure they do not contain illegal barren battery eggs is to make sure they are labelled as coming from a cage-free system, like barn, free-range or organic.
This also does not mean that the EU will be cage-free, as so-called "enriched cages" that give hens slightly more room, a place to perch, scratch and nest, are still permitted.
But, at least for one day, Compassion and our supporters can celebrate a monumental step forwards for hen welfare in the EU.