Parliament wants to limite animal testing while not hindering scientific research

Legislation to regulate the use of animals for scientific experiments has moved a step closer after Parliament and Council representatives reached on Wednesday an agreement on the final details of draft legislation in the pipeline. The key point is to improve animal welfare without hampering the fight against diseases.

If endorsed by Parliament and Council, the new legislation would reduce the number of animal tests and introduce, as a general rule, an assessment, before the experiment being carried out regarding the protection of animal welfare.  A degree of flexibility is granted to Member States which may choose to derogate from this rule in the case of  certain types of experiments not involving apes.

Among other things, the draft legislation addresses the issue of introducing alternative methods that produce less pain or distress, a better regulation of the use of primates, the classification of the severity of tests and the inspections to be carried out to ensure compliance.

Procedure not over yet

The agreement reached on Wednesday by the Parliament and Council delegations is the result of a lengthy procedure to reduce animal testing in the EU. In December 2009, the delegations had reached a compromise on main political issues, but had to omit the comitology arrangements, due to the foreseen changes in this area with  the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Wednesday's meeting confirmed the political deal reached last year and led to an agreement on the whole text of the draft legislation.

The deal must still be endorsed by the EP's political groups. For this reason it will now be formally submitted to the Agriculture Committee and subsequently to the full Parliament for a final vote. Both Parliament and Council will need to approve it to turn the draft text into law. The vote in the Agriculture Committee, not yet formally scheduled, could take place on 3 or 4 May.