Egg shortages across Europe are affecting Easter eggs. As of January 1, 2012, all eggs in the European Union (EU) are supposed to be hatched by hens kept in free-range barns or "enriched" cages. It's great news for the chickens but has led to egg shortages and massive price increases because farmers across Europe have not been able to implement the new rules in a timely way.
There are egg shortages in the UK and now it has become a big issue in the Czech Republic because Easter eggs are a very important part of their Easter tradition.
The hand-painted, decorated eggs, called Kraslice, are the most recognizable symbol of Czech Easter. Girls decorate Easter eggs to give them to boys on Easter Monday. Families decorate them according to local designs and heritage. When visitors come round, it's courtesy to give them a delicately hand-painted egg.
As in the UK, the price of eggs has sky rocketed, with people driving to Germany because they cost two thirds less there. The Germans are apparently limiting sales of boxes to two per customer.
In the countryside there are mile-long traffic jams with people lining up to buy farmers' eggs. Nearby Poland is no help because Polish farmers have been even slower than the Czechs to clean up their chickens' living conditions, so their eggs are banned from the country.
According to the Guardian, the Czech president believes it is all a plot. He "has blamed the EU for the mess and has hinted at EU-sanctioned market manipulation." He said "We all know that such massive changes in prices don't take place in a normal market economy, they take place only where the market is manipulated."
European Union (EU) officials say that this is a temporary problem. Demand falls after Easter and more farmers are bringing their farms up to EU standards. However Poland's agriculture minister has a different view: "Standards cost money. Europe demanded comfort for hens. It's not roosters who'll pay for the upgrade of cages. The consumer has to."