22 May 2012
Joanna Senyszyn (S&D)
Towards the end of April 2012, a group of animal rights activists freed caged dogs from a laboratory animal breeder on Green Hill farm — part of Marshall Farm Inc. — in Montichiari, Italy. According to the animal rights activists, the imprisoned animals had been brutally experimented on. They had fresh, undressed wounds. They were housed in cages in a windowless corridor. Among other things, the dogs had their vocal cords cut out so that they could not bark or whine during the tests. Under Italian law, one of the Polish activists is facing a penalty of four to 10 years in prison merely for opposing the abuse of animals — which is prohibited by EC law — in a Member State.
1. Can the Commission examine the state of the animals on this farm and determine whether the experiments conducted there are in accordance with the current directive, and undertake steps to prevent the aforementioned scandalous practices?
2. Is it possible to monitor the implementation of Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, so that, in the final phase of implementation, it is possible to determine any related problems or shortcomings?
3. Increasingly, we hear of animal rights activists being detained and treated like dangerous criminals. A human can fight for their rights, but an animal cannot. Therefore, can the Commission support the animal rights activists who often bring to light serious cases of animal torture in the EU?
If animal testing is unavoidable, animals should be provided with the best protection before, during and after the experiment; welfare that is legally compliant; and the course of the experiments must also be strictly regulated in terms of ethics. That is why I am asking the Commission for an urgent response in this matter.
18 July 2012
Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission
Articles 15 and 19 of Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and scientific purposes(1) provide that all breeding, supplying and user establishments shall be approved by or registered with, the relevant national authority. It further describes a number of obligations concerning the personnel, care and treatment of the animals. Article 19 also requires that user establishments shall be subject to periodic inspection.
Directive 86/609/EEC will be replaced by Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes from 1 January 2013(2).
During the transposition phase, the Commission is working closely with the Member States to help ensure correct implementation of the provisions.
Article 34 of the new Directive lays down more stringent requirements for regular, risk-based inspections to verify compliance with the directive. However, the national competent authorities are responsible for enforcing EC law in their respective territories and thus controlling the correct application and compliance of the provisions of the directive.
Concerning criminal prosecution against animal rights activists, the Commission has no competence to intervene in the day-to-day administration of the justice systems of individual Member States. In the absence of European legislation in this area, the administration of justice comes within the exclusive competence of Member State’s authorities. If citizens are prosecuted, they are entitled to the benefit of the protection of fundamental rights enshrined by the Charter and the European Court of Human Rights.
(1) OJ L 358, 18.12.1986.
(2) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010.