(Nov. 12, 2013) A European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) recently met the threshold of being signed by one million European Union citizens. The ECI is a request that the EU take action to discontinue the use of animals in scientific experimentation. (Third Successful Citizen’s Petition Calls for End to Animal Testing, EUR ACTIV (Oct. 31, 2013).)
The ECI, named Stop Vivisection, targets EU Directive 2010/63/EC on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes and demands that the Commission draft a new proposal that eliminates animal experimentation and requires the mandatory use of data relevant to humans in biological and toxicological research. (Directive 2010/63/EC, 2010 O.J. (L276) 33.) The idea for this initiative arose in the aftermath of the adoption of Directive 2010/63/EC, which did not discontinue the use of animals for experimentation but required reduction in the use of animals in procedures and compliance with certain safeguards to protect animal welfare during experimentation and when animals are killed. (Collection Signatures Closed on 02/11/2013;1.126.005 Signatures Collected, STOP VIVISECTION, (last visited, Nov. 6, 2013).)
The ECI bases its argument against animal experimentation on article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), which states that “the Union and the Member States, shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.” (Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, art. 13, 2012 OJ (C 326) 47.) In addition, the ECI cited ethical considerations against animal experimentation expressed in a 2006 Eurobarometer survey of 86% of EU citizens. (Collection Signatures Closed on 02/11/2013; 1.126.005 Signatures Collected, supra.)
Following the adoption of this initiative, which is the third ECI requesting action on other issues thus far, the Commission must ensure that it meets a number of additional criteria, as established by the TFEU and implemented by Regulation (EC) No. 211/2011 on the Citizens’ Initiative, which entered into force in April 2012. (Regulation No. 211/2011, 2011 OJ (L 65) 1.) Another requirement is that the ECI signatures represent at least one-third of the Member States. The number of signatures required is equivalent to the minimum number of representatives of the signers’ Member States in the European Parliament, multiplied by 750. The ECIs are published in the public register kept by the European Commission. (The European Citizens’ Initiative, EUROPA (last updated Oct. 8, 2013).