There are more than 350 million laying hens in the European Union. The laying hens produce close to 6.7 million tonnes of eggs each year. The EU supports egg producers through marketing standards and occasionally through some market support measures.
Eggs are covered by the common market organisation and have never been subject to linked payments or production quotas.
The EU has marketing standards for eggs; these are designed to ensure that the quality of the product stays high, protect the consumer and to make sure that standards are consistent through the EU market place.
EU regulations lay down detailed rules that eggs must fulfil to be marketed in the EU. In general, it specifies how:
- eggs and packs should be marked;
- eggs should be graded by quality and weight;
- packing stations must function;
- eggs must be packaged, stored, transported and presented for retail sale.
Eggs imported from third countries are subject to import duties. Within the framework of international and bilateral trade agreements, the EU operates a system of import quotas with specific country allocations or open to all producers (erga omnes).
Import of eggs for consumption from non-EU countries is allowed, but they must fulfil specific conditions regarding animal health and food safety. Concerning table eggs, they must also fulfil rules related to the marketing standards.
Eggs belong to the products covered by EU regulation 1308/2013 on the common organisation of the agricultural markets. Marketing standards are further developed by EU regulation 589/2008, while the criteria for practices in market monitoring is indicated by EU implementing regulation 2017/1185.
At the monthly committee for the common organisation of the agricultural markets, the European Commission presents the market situation in the eggs sector. The EU monitors the eggs market in order to identify market instability, provide accurate information to farmers and processors on the market situation and to help public policy decision making.
Market monitoring in practice
Each EU country must submit to the EU Commission, no later than 12:00 (CET) each Wednesday, the wholesale price for Class A eggs from caged hens (average of large and medium sized eggs), expressed per 100 kg.
Prices shall be notified for products in packing stations. Where the production in cages is no longer representative, the EU country concerned shall notify the wholesale price of Class A eggs, produced by laying hens kept in barn systems, expressed per 100 kg.
This criteria is specified in EU implementing regulation 2017/1185.
Various committees, composed of government representatives and chaired by a European Commission representative, meet regularly to ensure that the Commission's responsibility for adopting implementing acts is exercised under the control of EU countries.
The committee for common organisation of agricultural markets meets regularly to discuss areas such as the evolution of market prices, production and trade in the EU and non-EU countries.
The civil dialogue group and working group on animal products (CDG) maintains the role of assisting the Commission in maintaining a regular dialogue on all matters related to eggs.