On February 15 2017, the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement process) to Italy for not having transposed properly the EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (Directive 2010/63/EU). Already in April 2016, a letter of formal notice was sent to Italy by the EU Commission. If the Italian authorities fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
This Directive, which should have been enacted into national law by 10 November 2012, ensures a high level of animal welfare while safeguarding the proper functioning of the internal market. It also aims to minimise the number of animals used in experiments and requires alternatives to be used where possible. Italy had enacted the Directive in March 2014; however, a number of points of non-conformity need to be addressed. On certain aspects, the Italian law remains below the animal welfare standards set out by the Directive, while Italy invokes its allegedly higher standards on other issues, which can disturb the proper functioning of the internal market.