***(EU) action on non-compliance of vivisection law
COMMISSION ACTS AGAINST BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS AND FRANCE FOR
NON-COMPLIANCE WITH EU LAW ON ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS
July 17, 2003
European Commission Press Release DN: IP/03/1039
The European Commission has requested that the Netherlands and France comply
with judgements of the European Court of Justice relating to an EU law on
animal experiments. The law in question aims to ensure that, where animals
are used for experimental or other scientific purposes, certain common
animal protection provisions are applied across the European Union. The
Court had found that the Netherlands and France had failed to adopt
appropriate national legislation to implement the specific provisions of the
EU law. The Commission's requests take the form of a letter of formal notice
(the first stage of an infringement procedure under Article 228 of the
Treaty). The Commission is also sending an additional final written warning
or "Reasoned Opinion" to Belgium because it has failed to comply with the
same law. In particular, the Commission is concerned that, despite recent
modifications, Belgian legislation still allows too wide a scope for the
experimental use of cats and dogs that have not been bred for the purpose.
On 16 January 2003, the Court of Justice found that the Netherlands had
failed to adopt the necessary measures to correctly transpose Articles 11
and 22(1) of the Animal Experiments Directive (Case C-2001/205). Article 11
concerns the release of animals that have been used for experimental
purposes. It stipulates that an animal should be set free only when the
maximum possible care has been taken to safeguard its well being and
provided that its health allows this to be done and there is no danger to
public health or the environment. This measure has not been transposed into
Dutch law. Article 22(1) relates to the mutual recognition of experiments.
The Netherlands has not taken appropriate measures to enable the validity of
data generated by experiments carried out in other Member States (insofar as
this is possible) to be recognised, in order to avoid duplication of
On 12 September 2002, the Court of Justice found that France had failed to
adopt the measures required to correctly transpose several articles of the
Animal Experiments Directive (Case C-152/00) into French national
legislation. France has not correctly transposed Article 22(1) or Article
7(3), which relates to the minimising of harm and suffering for experimental
animals. Finally, France has not fully transposed Article 18(1), which
relates to individual identification marks.
The case against Belgium follows a Commission investigation into a complaint
that the Belgian authorities were allowing too wide a scope for exemptions
for the experimental use of cats and dogs that were not bred for the
purpose. This is in breach of Article 19(4) of the Directive. In July 2001,
the Commission decided to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice but,
following the adoption and notification of new Belgian legislation, the
referral was not made. However, the new legislation still proved
unsatisfactory, and the Commission has, therefore, sent Belgium a second
Reasoned Opinion (final written warning).
The Animal Experiments Directive
The Animal Experiments Directive (1) aims to ensure that, where animals are
used for experimental or other scientific purposes, certain common animal
protection provisions are applied across the EU. The Directive includes
controls on breeding centres for laboratory animals. It also defines general
and specific criteria concerning the housing of animals, restrictions on
their freedom of movement, the close monitoring of their physical condition,
measures to prevent pain and undue suffering and the timely elimination of
any physical defect or suffering. The relevant public authority must approve
or register the centres, which must keep detailed records on the animals in
Article 226 of the Treaty gives the Commission powers to take legal action
against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations. If the
Commission considers that there may be an infringement of Community law that
warrants the opening of an infringement procedure, it addresses a "Letter of
Formal Notice" (or first written warning) to the Member State concerned,
requesting it to submit its observations by a specified date, usually two
In the light of the reply or absence of a reply from the Member State
concerned, the Commission may decide to address a "Reasoned Opinion" (or
final written warning) to the Member State. This clearly and definitively
sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of
Community law and calls upon the Member State to comply within a specified
period, usually two months.
If the Member State fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the
Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice.
Article 228 of the Treaty gives the Commission power to act against a Member
State that does not comply with a previous judgement of the European Court
of Justice. The article also allows the Commission to ask the Court to
impose a financial penalty on the Member State concerned. The Commission
will send a first written warning to the Netherlands and France.
For current statistics on infringements in general, please visit the
Tell of your passion of the causes you fight for!
"Hunting ... the least honorable form of war on the weak".
- Paul Richard
Don't just question animal abuse. Interrogate it, impugn it, tear it down, dismember it, bury it, and when the mood strikes you, dance on its grave!
"My doctrine is this: that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and we do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."
- Anna Sewell, (English Novelist)