Council agrees stricter rules for animal experimentation
The European Council of Ministers has announced agreement on the draft Directive for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes. The new directive, now called 8869/10, will replace directive 86/609. It was revised to harmonise animal research legislation across European countries, and aims to strengthen the protection for animals, whilst allowing vital research to continue.
This press release is the first major public announcement from member state governments since the directive entered into discussions within the European Parliament. It marks the Council's provisional agreement which will be followed soon by formal adoption once the text has been finalised. The document will then be passed back to the European Parliament for a second reading.
The process of revising a directive across Europe is complex and at times confusing. There are many stages of discussion, approval, editing and reading that take place before a directive comes into force.
Three important provisions of the directive were highlighted in the announcement, relating to member states' responsibility to ensure that:
- Experiments with animals are replaced, wherever possible, by an alternative method which is scientifically satisfactory
- The number of animals used in projects is reduced to a minimum without compromising the quality of the results
- The degree of pain and suffering caused to animals is limited to the minimum
We support each of these aims, and welcome the current text of the new directive and its aim of harmonising legislation across Europe. We believe that the current version of the text represents a good compromise that gives a high level of protection to animals without hampering essential research.
Each member state will now be considering implementation of the directive in their own country. The text of the directive must be 'transposed' by each country into legislation, effectively putting the text into 'their own words'. In the UK this process can be done through either regulations or through primary legislation.
It is vital that implementation of the Directive in the UK and other member states is done without gold-plating. The clinical trials directive has caused serious problems across Europe due to the excessive bureaucracy it has created. Let's hope that is not repeated for animal research.