Public survey on animal testing and the 3Rs

Following the European Commission's Communication published in response to the European Citizens' Initiative "Stop Vivisection", the JRC's Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) has launched a public survey to solicit input from individuals and organisations to identify all types of knowledge sources that might be relevant for Replacing, Reducing or Refining (the '3Rs') the use of animals for scientific purposes.

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Stop Vivisection European Citizens’ Initiative on the repeal of Directive on laboratory animals

update: the EU Commission will answer on 3.06.2015 on the follow up (or not) of the ECI

MEPs from Parliament's Agriculture, Public Health, Research and Petitions committees discussed with the European Citizens’ Initiative's (ECI) supporters and experts, which calls for the repeal of Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes in order to cease animal experimentation.

On Monday, 11th May 2015, Members of four Parliament's committees then discussed with organisers of the ECI, Mr Tamino, Mr Reiss and Mr André Ménache, as well as with experts in the field, Mr Ray Greek of Americans for Medical Advancement (AFMA), the 2008 Nobel prize laureate of Medicine or Physiology Ms Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Ms Emily McIvor from Humane Society International, the pros and cons of the call by the ECI petitioners to repeal of the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and thus stop animal experimentation.

The debate got quickly heated, as the positions varied especially on the suitability of animals as models for humans. Mr Greek, in particular, questioned the predictive value of animals for humans, and stated that there is no correspondence between their respective reactions in relation to bioavailability, toxicity nor drugs.

However, according to Ms Barré-Sinoussi, current technologies of in-vitro tests cannot reproduce all the interactions between tissues and organs, nevertheless the Nobel Prize winner called for the EU to invest more in the alternatives to animal testing in the future.

Mr Falkenberg, Director General of DG ENV of the European Commission recalled the EU regulatory framework, and quoted art. 4 of Directive 2010/63, which sets the Principle of replacement, reduction and refinement. Such principle imposes Member States to ensure that alternatives are used instead of animals, whenever they are appropriate: “Member States shall ensure that, wherever possible, a scientifically satisfactory method or testing strategy, not entailing the use of live animals, shall be used instead of a procedure” (art. 4(1) Directive 2010/63), where “procedure” indicates an animal testing method.

Now the European Commission has three months to  analyse the initiative decide how to act upon it.


Background: ECI

The European Citizens' Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of EU member states (7 out of 28) to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. Organisers of successful initiatives are invited to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament, before the legislative committee responsible for the subject matter.

 "Stop Vivisection" was the third ECI hearing organised by the Parliament. The two ECI hearings that took place in the Parliament in the past were "Right2Water" (17 February 2014) and "One of us".

The organisers have gathered 1,173,130 signatures calling on the Commission to abrogate the Directive (2010/63/EU) on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and put forward a new proposal aimed at phasing out the practice of animal experimentation.

Organisers of successful initiatives are invited to take part in a hearing at the European Parliament. The European Commission then has three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act upon it. 


A reasonned opinion adressed to Poland for its failure to implement the Animal in Experiments Directive


On October 16th 2014, the EU Commission adressed to Poland a reasonned opinion for its failure to implement Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes before the deadlin of January 1 2013. If Poland fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

Please read more on the enforcement of Directive 2010/63/EU on

Please read the official EU press release here


1,000,000 signatures collected for the ECI "Stop vivisection"

On November 5 2013, the European Citizen Initiative "stop vivestion" has collected the 1,000,000 signatures required. The ECI launched in June 2012 aimed to "urge the European Commission to abrogate directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and to present a new proposal that does away with animal experimentation and instead makes compulsory the use – in biomedical and toxicological research – of data directly relevant for the human species".

This is the first ECI that may be submitted to the EU Commission. 

The European Citizen Initative (ECI) is a new tool of the Lisbon Treaty, and it has been officialy launched in 2012. It permits to 1 million citizen, from at least 7 different Member States to submit to the European Commission an official ask to act on a EU relevant topic.

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Protection of animals for scientific purposes: protests in Italy against the new law

Since one week in Rome, there has been several huge demonstrations of actors of the biomedical field against the new Italian proposed law on protection of animals for scientific purposes.

Continue reading Protection of animals for scientific purposes: protests in Italy against the new law


Animals in experiments: a reasoned opinion was sent to Hungary today

Today, EU Commission has announced that a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure) has been sent to Hungary regarding the transposition of the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

The deadline for transposition of this Directive was planned for 10 November 2012.

Continue reading Animals in experiments: a reasoned opinion was sent to Hungary today


Rights of animals and their defenders

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.