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EU: EC takes the Netherlands to court over failure to protect animals used for scientific purposes

The European Commission is referring the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice over its failure to enact EU legislation on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (2010/63/EU). The EU rules, which should have been enacted into national law by November 2012, aim to minimize the number of animals used in experiments, and require alternatives to be used where possible. The legislation also lays down minimum standards for housing and care of animals, and regulates their use, taking into consideration criteria such as pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm caused to the animals. The European Commission is asking the Court to impose penalty payments of EUR 51 156 per day until the law is enacted.


Although Dutch legislation already provides some protection for animals used in laboratories, gaps remain and almost two years after the deadline given to Member States to enact Directive 2010/63/EU, full compliance with EU standards has still not been achieved. Some of the shortcomings concern the purpose of testing procedures, the use of endangered species, classification of severity of procedures, establishment of an animal-welfare body, as well as prior authorisation for animal testing projects.


The Commission first raised its concerns in a letter of formal notice to the Dutch government in January 2013, and repeated them in a reasoned opinion five months later. The Netherlands replied that the deficiencies in transposition would be addressed in a new Act planned for adoption on 1 January 2014 or soon after. However, despite the progress of the legislative procedure in the Dutch Chamber of Deputies, the draft Act is still awaiting discussion in the Senate. As no new date for final adoption, publication and entry into force of the Act has been announced, it has been decided to call the Netherlands before the EU Court of Justice.



European Commission – IP/14/1141

October 16, 2014

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