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2010/63/EU is an indispensable tool at the EU level to protect animals”

and that it will not be abolished.

Commenting, LERU secretary-general Professor Kurt Deketelaere said

it was “an important day for the EU”. He remarked: “With its response to

the ECI, the Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to raising animal

welfare standards within the EU and to lead by example on the

international stage. This forward-looking directive represents a major

step by the EU to advance excellent science and high-quality research.”

LERU has argued that research using animals is still needed, and

therefore the highest standards of animal welfare must be adopted

while human and animal health are protected. The organisation, which

represents 21 research universities throughout Europe, says Directive

2010/63/EU has been an essential step forward in modernising and

harmonising animal welfare standards within the EU, firmly anchors

the 3R principles, and makes the use of alternative methods mandatory

if available.

However, the body notes that there is no room for complacency. LERU

says that, having at its very core the advancement of knowledge and

the promotion of research, it strongly endorses this call for furthering

research on alternative methods and therefore welcomes the actions

announced by the Commission of accelerating progress in the 3Rs

through knowledge sharing; validating and implementing new

alternative approaches; enforcing compliance with the 3R principles

and aligning relevant sector legislation; and engaging in a dialogue with

the scientific community.

In this special feature, Portal looks at the arguments both for and against

animal testing. With contributions from the University of Zürich’s Brigitte

Von Rechenberg, Professor Dr Tjard de Cock Buning of the University of

Amsterdam and LERU secretary-general Kurt Deketelaere, and in an

overview of the Stop Vivisection ECI, we detail the debate that divides

both scientists and citizens.

3) A permanent conference every two years;

4) All available alternative methods shall be

mandatory by law;

5) Alternative methods as an EU priority

(policies, funds and accountability);

6) Validation as soon as possible of specific

alternative methods already existing;

7) Different way of validating alternativemethods;

8) EU transnational engagement on the

necessity to phase out animal

experiments and on the mandatory nature

of alternative methods;

9) Validation of alternative methods must be

at the expense of the EU, not of the

researchers; and

10) Annual report for alternatives in

applied research.

The organisers of the ECI say they have shown

their willingness to engage in a political and

open dialogue with the European authorities by

preparing a science-based document and by

asking the Commission to provide specific

answers to the ten proposals, yet say that “not

one of the legitimate proposals” has been met.

The promoters add that they feel that 1.2 million

citizens, and three years of intense

campaigning, “deserve something better than a

very superficial, generic reply”. The organisers

say that the Commission’s response that it

shares the goal of phasing out animal

experiments is “hard to believe”, adding that the

EU institution continues to rely on the “outdated

principle” of the 3Rs (reduction, refinement,

replacement) and to stress the ethical dimension

of the debate, but avoid the scientific arguments

regarding animal experimentation.

The organisers add that despite the significant

obstacles, the ECI has also achieved some key

results, namely: more than 1.2 million EU

citizens who signed the ECI have now been

made aware that there is an important scientific

dimension to this debate besides the animal

welfare concerns; and the public hearing at the

European Parliament also allowed MEPs to

become more informed about the implications

for our health and the future of animal testing.

Loud and clear

On reading the Commission’s reply, the League

of European Research Universities (LERU) said

it very much welcomed the response by the

Commission to the ECI, adding that the EU

institution had clearly stated that “Directive

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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 organisers of the

Stop Vivisection ECI

have reacted with

huge surprise and

disappointment to the

Commission’s reply