European Citizens’ Initiative – Stop Vivisection

The last few months have been dominated by a new effort to ban animal research in Europe.

The Stop Vivisection European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) called for “the European Commission to abrogate directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and to present a new proposal that does away with animal experimentation”.

Under the Citizens’ Initiative programme, EU citizens can propose changes in legislation to the European Commission. To warrant formal attention from the Commission, the ECI must gain one million signatures across from at least seven member states.

Stop Vivisection collected 1,173,130 signatures across 26 of the EU’s 28 member states. The majority are from Italy, where anti-animal research sentiment is high. It is the third citizens' initiative to receive a public hearing at the European Parliament, and took place on the 11 May 2015.   

Speakers at the hearing included initiative organisers Gianni Tamino and Claude Reiss, as well as Dr Ray Greek of Americans for Medical Advancement (AFMA), Emily McIvor of Humane Society International and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi,  winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Ahead of the hearing and in response to the initiative, over 120 organisations—including The Physiological Society, other learned societies, patient groups and leading universities signed a joint statement supporting European Directive 2010/63/EU. The statement calls on the European Parliament to oppose the ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative, explaining that repealing the Directive would represent a major step backwards both for animal welfare in the EU and for Europe’s leading role in advancing human and animal health.

Furthermore the Society prepared a template letter for members to help them contact their MEPs, articulating the necessary use animals in their research and why, urging their MEPs to oppose the Stop Vivisection Initiative. While we do not have exact figures, we can confidently say a significant number of members were mobilised to take action, and many also received encouraging responses from their MEPs. 

We are cautiously awaiting a formal response from the European Commission on the 3 June 2015.