Accelerating the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education - time for action!


Accelerating the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education - time for action!

4 June 2021
Despite the clear objective of the Animals in Science Directive to replace and reduce the number of animals used in science, 2020 reports of the European Commission revealed that more than 23 million animals were impacted by scientific practices in the EU in 2017.

Almost 60% of these animals were killed in EU laboratories without actually being used in experiments and 14 countries are still under infringement procedures because of incorrect transposition of the Directive into national legislation. Over the last 11 years, there has been no significant reduction of the overall number of animals used for scientific purposes.

This happens despite the rapid emergence of advanced non-animal models such as organs-on-a-chip, pathway-based approaches and artificial intelligence, which today offer immense opportunities to improve research, enhance our understanding of diseases and accelerate the discovery of effective treatments. The Joint Research Centre has listed many of these models for several disease areas but these reports have not been followed by concrete plans to reduce the use of animals in the identified areas.

We believe that an Action Plan to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education is urgently needed to turn the replacement of animals in scientific procedures into a priority for the EU. An Action Plan sets a series of steps to reach concrete, ambitious and achievable objectives. Today the EU does not have a comprehensive policy program to phase out animal experiments encompassing the objectives of existing EU legislations and funding instruments.

A shift to humane, non-animal science is in line with the values of European citizens. The first online consultation on the Future of Europe revealed that 1 out of 7 citizens mentioned animal welfare in an open question about their hopes for the future EU priorities. EU citizens consistently show their demands to phase out animal experimentation. The 2012 European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Stop Vivisection’, for example, collected more than 1.1 Million signatures. An opinion poll carried out in 2020 showed that nearly three quarters (72%) of adults in EU member states agree that the EU should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out testing on animals.

Furthermore, EU-wide coordinated support to transition to non-animal scientific approaches with great potential to not only to perform better,, but also reduce costs, would put the EU in a leading position in this dynamic, highly promising and innovative sector.

Eurogroup for Animals calls on the Members of the European Parliament to support a motion for a resolution calling for an EU Action Plan to phase out the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education.

1. Online consultation on the Future of Europe conducted by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Communication [2019] online
3. Gribaldo L, Hurley K, Hiemstra P, Greene C. Increased focus on non-animal models for COVID-19 and non-COVID lung research. Eur Respir J. 2021;57(1):2004267. Published 2021 Jan 14. doi:10.1183/13993003.04267-2020 Available at:
4. Thomas, DW, Burns, J, Audette, J, Carroll, A, Dow-Hygelund, C, Hay, M. Clinical development success rates 2006–2015, San Diego: Biomedtracker/Washington, DC: BIO/Bend: Amplion, 2016. Available at:,%20Biomedtracker,%20Amplion%202016.pdf
5. Franzen, N.; van Harten, W.H.; Retèl, V.P.; Loskill, P.; van den Eijnden-van Raaij, J.; IJzerman, M. Impact of organ-on-a-chip technology on pharmaceutical R&D costs. Drug Discov. Today 2019, 24, 1720–1724.