European Commission commits to the reduction of animal testing in new Chemicals Strategy, but does not present a concrete plan


European Commission commits to the reduction of animal testing in new Chemicals Strategy, but does not present a concrete plan

19 October 2020
Eurogroup for Animals
On 14 October 2020, the European Commission adopted a new Chemicals Strategy. As announced in the European Green Deal, this strategy is a first step towards a toxic-free environment and also includes important commitments from the Commission regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes.

The Commission recognizes that the systematic requirement for animal testing in the field of chemicals needs to be reviewed and adapted to the Directive 2010/63/EU's objective to fully replace the use of animals for scientific purposes. Safety testing and chemical risk assessment offer great opportunities for innovation towards non-animal approaches, to reduce dependency on animals on the one hand but also to allow for more accurate and faster assessments. The Commission therefore commits to  "foster multidisciplinary research and digital innovations for advanced tools, methods and models, and data analysis capacities to also move away from animal testing".

The Strategy also recognizes the necessity for the EU to help strengthen international standards through the development of common standards and innovative risk assessment tools. With the help of the OECD and other organisations, the EU commits to promote the use of these tools internationally in order to move away from the use of animals. 

The full adopted strategy can be found here.

In October, an exchange of views was held between the ENVI Committee and the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius. 

MEP Maria Spyraki (EPP, EL) called for animal testing to be "furthered developed in the strategy with increased funding" as well as a special team within ECHA to work on the issue including stakeholders, industry and civil society. MEP Aurelia Beigneux (ID, FR) asked the Commission for more details on the use of animals for chemical trias as well as for a limit of the trials. MEP Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL, NL) noted that although the Commission commits to the phase out of animal testing in the Strategy, it fails to explain exactly how. MEP Hazekamp also asked whether the Commission will direct funding towards this commitment. 

To the three MEPs, Commissioner Sinkevičius solely answered that the "Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes already provides an answer to this" and that "the goal is full replacement of animal use as soon as there is an alternative".