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Watching brief

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Evaluation of the EU Policy on Animal Welfare

November 2009, the European Commission asked external consultants (GHK consulting and ADAS UK) to evaluate the EU policy on Animal Welfare (EUPAW) with reference to “farm animals, animals in laboratories, companion animals and wild animals kept in captivity”.  It covers four types of EU action - legislation, research, communication and international activities) for the period 2000-2008.

The evaluation is set to be completed by the end of 2010 and will form the basis for a future EU action plan on animal welfare. As part of this process, an online public consultation was launched on 1st June and will close on 31st August 2010.

The evaluation team has interviewed key stakeholders, including the ECEAE, to collect their views on specific policy areas.  It was really important for us to comment on EU legislation on animal testing and suggest options for future progressive, humane EU policies. Key pieces of EU legislation and initiatives on animal experiments adopted between 2000 and 2008 include:

  • 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive - which introduced a ban on cosmetics testing
  • implementation and revision of Directive 86/609/EEC - legislation which governs what researchers can do to animals in laboratories in the EU,
  • Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006-2010
  • REACH regulation - under which millions of animals could be used to test the safety of chemicals.

The ECEAE took this opportunity to comment on the fact that EU legislation on animal experiments does not always meet the expectations of the public - such as the highest welfare of animals - because it is a compromise between vested interests.

The ECEAE also commented on the inadequate implementation and enforcement of EU legislation at national level in relation to poor systems of reporting and inspecting animal experiments.

The ECEAE underlined that there is little information given to the public on how and why animals are used in experiments, and what is done to improve their welfare or replace their use. This limits awareness about the reality of animal experiments in the EU, and opportunities for informed public and scientific debate

 The ECEAE suggested that avoiding animal suffering, ethics and public opinion should be at the heart of the formulation of legislation. We also noted that the funding, development and promotion of alternative methods should be higher on the EU agenda. 

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