A recent Commission review on the animal experimentation Directive stresses the importance of unleashing its potential to seriously replace, reduce and refine (3Rs) the use of animals for testing, research or educational purposes.  The main concerns highlighted in the report include a need for improving the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of project evaluation and authorisation processes before animals are used. The report also highlights the need for more transparency of information about the use of animals. Furthermore the review identifies the need to ensure high standards of relevant education and training as a means to ensure optimal uptake of the 3Rs.
Key factors hindering fuller implementation of the 3Rs and use of alternatives are identified as a lack of knowledge, insufficient communication, the acceptance of alternatives and financial aspects. To overcome these issues, Eurogroup for Animals emphasises the need to take forward the recommendations as outlined in a recent Commission report ‘Non animal approaches, the way forward’ . Among others, more funding and uptake of non-animal approaches are key as to drive this process.
Eurogroup for Animals regrets that in the report, the Commission has ruled out setting a strategy and timeframe for reducing and ultimately ending the use of non-human primates. This disappointing position, along with the conservative nature of the recently published SCHEER report on the need for non-human primates in research, illustrates insufficient challenge to the current situation.
Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals says, “As acknowledged in the review report, this Directive has the potential to significantly drive better implementation of the 3Rs and challenging the ethical and scientific justification for the use of animals. For example by efficient and consistent project evaluation and authorisation. Eurogroup for Animals believes that to fulfil this potential, it is vital to involve broader expertise in the bodies who assess submissions. Moreover, to accelerate progress EU Member States should be permitted to adopt higher standards or prohibit certain animal research which is currently not allowed’’.
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes a more comprehensive evaluation of the Directive’s implementation to be carried out in 2019. It is of utmost importance that until that moment, the issues identified in this first review are addressed with competent authorities and other involved parties and stakeholders. This can therefore contribute to an effective implementation of the Directive, moving towards a stronger uptake of non-animal approaches.
Luísa Bastos, Programme Leader Animals in Science, Eurogroup for Animals, Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 23, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy Mathieson, Communications Officer, Eurogroup for Animals, Email: email@example.com
The Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes (2010/63/EU) includes requirements and standards which could improve animal welfare and act as a driving force for the application of the 3Rs principle (of replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use), and ultimately to fully replace procedures on live animals. After being adopted in September 2010, Member States had been transposing the Directive into their national legislations at different paces. As a legal requirement, a review process of the implementation of the Directive started in March 2016 and its results have now been published by the European Commission. From the beginning of the review process it was clear that the results would be limited due to the delayed transposition into certain national legislations of the Member States. Therefore, no amendments to the Directive are proposed.