More comprehensive update of annexes of animals in science Directive needed


More comprehensive update of annexes of animals in science Directive needed

11 April 2024
In a move to update requirements for the appropriate accommodation, care, and killing of animals used for scientific purposes, the European Commission recently adopted a delegated directive with additional requirements for a number of species; but should more be done?

Article 50 of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes empowers the Commission to adapt the Annexes in order to ensure that they reflect technical and scientific progress. 

At the time of adoption of the Directive, there was insufficient scientific evidence on the appropriate housing, care and killing methods for certain species, so species-specific requirements for these species were not included.

Since the adoption of the Directive, new scientific knowledge has become available on the welfare requirements of cephalopods, zebrafish and passerine birds used for scientific purposes, and on the killing of cephalopods and zebrafish in a manner causing least pain, suffering and distress. New scientific evidence has also emerged on the inappropriateness of using inert gases to kill rodents. In the light of this evidence, the Commission decided to revise the relevant Annexes (i.e. Annexes III and IV) to the Directive. 

In early 2023, the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) was requested by the Commission to provide a scientific opinion in support of the revision of Annexes III and IV. A call for information was launched by SCHEER to invite all interested parties to submit scientific information on the specific questions on which SCHEER was asked to provide a scientific opinion. Eurogroup for Animals actively engaged with some of its member organisations to provide feedback. The scientific opinion was published in October 2023. Taking into account the opinion issued by SCHEER, the Commission drafted a Delegated directive and initiated a public consultation earlier this year, with Eurogroup for Animals contributing input to the draft. Subsequently, the Delegated directive concerning the revision of Annexes III and IV was officially adopted on 13 March 2024.

We welcome the efforts to establish new standards for cephalopods, zebra fish and passerine birds previously overlooked. However, we also express regret that the revision has missed the opportunity to update existing provisions for other species.

In accordance with Article 50 of the Directive, we call for a more comprehensive revision of Annexes III and IV to amend the provisions for these limited species, aligning them with the latest technical and scientific progress.