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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

regarding the ECI and the potential implications

if a ban on animal testing were to be

introduced: “If the Commission decided to

withdraw the existing 2010/63/EU Directive,

that would be a fantastic mistake that would

have enormous consequences for biomedical

research in Europe. This is something that we

cannot afford to do as a continent.

“The directive was just adopted in 2010 to

make sure that animal testing was tackled

in a more structured, harmonised way,

guaranteeing a level playing field for these

kinds of activities throughout Europe,

introducing a 3R approach. This helps to

ensure that animal research is only done when

there are absolutely no other alternatives in

order to tackle a number of problems and

diseases with which we are confronted within

the human and the animal world.”

Members’ thoughts

Portal also asked Deketelaere how members of

LERU had responded to the publication of

the ECI: “They have reacted with enormous

disbelief in the sense that they say, ‘What are

those people talking about? They simply do not

know the daily practice in our institutions and

research institutes. Maybe they should come

and have a look and see what kind of care and

what kind of precaution animals are treated

with, and which animals are used.’

“At the same time, there is enormous worry

that work which has taken enormous amounts

of investment – time, financing and resources

– may all be in vain, would all have to be

stopped, and would all result in nothing. There

is an enormous anxiety in our institutions about

this, and all of our staff members have asked

very explicitly that we speak up loud and clear

on this issue.”


Deketelaere commented that if a ban were

to be introduced, Europe’s scientific


2010, the European Parliament and Council of the

European Union adopted fresh EU legislation ‘on the

protection of animals used for scientific purposes’.

According to the European Commission, Directive 2010/63/EU

gives particular focus to the 3Rs, that is ‘to replace, reduce and

refine the use of animals used for scientific purposes’.

Other guidelines set down by the EU legislation include provisions for

the use of ‘foetuses of mammalian species in their last trimester of

development and cephalopods’, ‘animals used for the purposes of basic

research, higher education and training’, ‘minimum standards for

housing and care’ and a ‘systematic project evaluation requiring



assessment of pain, suffering distress and lasting harm caused to

the animals’.

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Stop Vivisection’ seeks to abrogate

Directive 2010/63/EU and urges the Commission to introduce “a new

proposal that does away with animal experimentation and instead makes

compulsory the use – in biomedical and toxicological research – of data

directly relevant for the human species”. According to the League of

European Research Universities (LERU), the EU could take several steps

back from the progress made in regards to animal welfare if such moves

were to take place.

Research university response

Prior to the Commission’s decision in June, Portal gained the views of

the university organisation by speaking to Professor Kurt Deketelaere,

the secretary general of LERU. Deketelaere outlined his concerns

“A fantastic mistake”


spoke to LERU secretary general

Professor Kurt Deketelaere

on the

implications of annulling the 2010 directive ‘on the protection of animals used

for scientific purposes’

Professor Kurt


LERU’s members have

reacted with

“enormous disbelief”

to the ECI,

said Deketelaere