Chance for change

In 1986 the European Council adopted Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. The Directive controls the use of laboratory animals within the EU but, now some 20 years old, it is desperately out of date and in urgent need of review.

We want to see a total end to animal experiments and support instead cutting-edge non-animal research methods. However, for as long as animal experiments continue it is vital that even the imperfect protection provided by this EU legislation is improved. Some categories of experiments, such as basic research or the use of animals in education or training, are not even covered by the legislation and consequently EU efforts to develop non-animal replacements miss out whole areas of significant animal use.

The European Commission has recognised this and a review of the Directive is now underway. The Commission has also launched a Community Action Plan for the Protection and Welfare of Animals in which it proposes a new European Centre which could provide the infrastructure for the EU to expand and develop its world leadership role in non-animal techniques. The Action Plan explicitly states "The final aim is to replace animal experiments with methods not entailing the use of an animal." (1)

Sign the petition

These two events provide animal and consumer advocates across Europe with an unprecedented opportunity to urge the European Union to increase efforts to replace all animal experiments. The Commission acknowledges that non-animal replacements "...have the potential to provide robust information through quality-controlled, state-of-the-art tests which are faster and less cost-intensive than classical animal-based tests" (2). Now political pressure is needed to encourage EU legislators to do everything they can to maximise non-animal replacement efforts.

The Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, supported by animal and consumer protection groups across Europe, has launched a major EU-wide petition. The petition urges EU legislators to use this opportunity to put in place targeted efforts to develop and implement non-animal methods, thus potentially saving millions of laboratory animals and improving the quality of research and testing. Please sign the petition now.


1. Commission Working Document on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010. Strategic basis for proposed action, page 9. Brussels, 23.01.2006, SEC(2006)65. COM(2006)14 final.

2. As above