National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

European Commission responds to million-strong petition with promise of more action

Posted: 4 June 2015. Updated: 4 June 2015


The European Commission has responded to the European Citizens’ Initiative which had called for a repeal of the European Directive of animal research and an end to such research throughout Europe. The Initiative gained more the 1.1 million signatures from across Europe and was the subject of a session in the European Parliament in May where experts and politicians gave their views.

The Stop Vivisection Initiative is one of just three petitions to have reached the one million signature threshold and had the support of more than 230 groups across the continent including the NAVS. The Commission stated in response that while it shared the long-term ambition to end the use of animals in research it is the view of the Commission that animal research is still necessary. This comes despite extensive evidence of their unreliability, not least due to the different way in which species react to substances.

Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, who has responsibility for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said that the Initiative came at a “time of transition” and that “thanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of animal testing.” The new Directive, which came into force in Britain in 2013 states that it will assist in “achieving the final goal of full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes”.

The European Commission has proposed four actions as a result of the Citizens’ Initiative. A conference will take place before the end of 2016 where the latest developments in non-animal research methods will be discussed with participants. In addition to this the Commission will aim to improve dissemination of progress in Reducing, Refining and Replacing animals in research and look for alternative approaches in regulatory research. The implementation of the Directive will also be monitored in Member States. A planned review of the working of the Directive is due to commence in 2017 with a report being published by 2019.

Over 11 million animals, including monkeys, dogs, mice, rabbits, horses, fish, birds and cats suffer in experiments across the EU each year, according to latest figures. Britain is one of the largest users, responsible for testing on over 4 million animals. Despite a government commitment to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”, animal experiments in this country are at the highest level on modern record.

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