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Major advances

The Commission detailed that, over the

last decade, technological advances have

revolutionised biomedical research. Major

breakthroughs include the development of

alternative tests based on cell and tissue

cultures, and computational methods that

reduce the need for testing on animals.

However, many complex physiological and

toxicological processes and effects cannot yet

be adequately modelled or assessed by

alternatives, so some animal studies are still

needed to advance research and to safeguard

human, animal and environmental health.

The communication set out a number of further

actions that the Commission will take towards

the goal of phasing out animal testing, including

the organisation of a conference engaging the

scientific community and relevant stakeholders

by 2016, and on that occasion presenting a

progress report on the actions taken. The

communication also indicated a need to

accelerate progress in the area of replacing,

reducing and refining the use of animal testing

through knowledge sharing, and the EU

institution will continue to support the

development and validation of alternative

approaches. Dialogue with all stakeholders will

continue, especially with the scientific

community, to advance towards the goal of

phasing out animal testing.


Following the publication of the official response

by the European Commission, the organisers of

Stop Vivisection reacted with “huge” surprise

and disappointment. The organisers said the

Commission response “plainly ignores” every

single request in a list of ten demands, namely:

1) An EU legislation to phase out

animal experiments;

2) The statement ‘the use of live animals

continues to be necessary to protect

human health’ shall be removed from all

EU legislation regarding medical and

toxicological research;


June, the European Commission announced its official

response to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ European Citizens’

Initiative (ECI). The EU institution said that whilst it does

share the conviction that animal testing should be phased out in Europe,

its approach for achieving that objective differs from the one proposed

in this ECI.

Commenting, the European Commission Vice-President for Jobs,

Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, said: “The

‘Stop Vivisection’ Citizens’ Initiative comes at a time of transition –

thanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of

animal testing. However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU

would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research

from Europe.”

In a communication adopted by the Commission, the EU institution

confirmed that it shares the ECI’s conviction that animal testing should

be phased out yet, at the same time, pointed out that this is the main

aim of the EU’s rules on the protection of animals used for scientific

purposes (Directive 2010/63/EU), which the initiative seeks to repeal.

The Commission said it considers that this directive is the right legislation

to achieve the underlying objectives of the initiative and therefore no

repeal of that legislation is proposed, adding that the directive is needed

to ensure a high level of protection for the animals used in research.

Once the directive has been in force long enough to assess its

effectiveness, the Commission said it will undertake a review.

Adding his thoughts, the European Commissioner for Environment,

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “The ultimate aim

of EU legislation is to phase out animal testing. In response to the

Citizens’ Initiative, the Commission is taking a number of actions to

enable faster progress in the uptake and use of alternatives approaches.”


H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : A N I M A L E T H I C S

The enduring debate

As the European Commission announces its reply to the Stop Vivisection

European Citizens’ Initiative,


carries the pledges of the EU institution

and the reaction of the ECI organisers and LERU

The Commission said

that whilst it believes

animal testing should

be phased out in

Europe, it has different

strategies to reach

this goal

© Sébastien Bertrand