European Commission Announces Infringement Procedure against Italy’s Restrictive Animal Research Law

The European Commission (EC) opened an infringement procedure against Italy on April 28 over the country’s restrictions on animal research. The action was prompted after research institutes there complained new Italian animal research regulations put them at a disadvantage compared to researchers in other Member States where there are fewer restrictions. The Italian government has two months to respond to the EC complaint. In order to resolve the infringement procedure, Italy must ensure that its laws abide by the requirements set out in the European Directive (2010/63).

You may recall that Italy passed a law in 2014 banning the breeding of cats, dogs and non-human primates for research purposes, or conducting even minimally invasive experiments that do not require sedation or pain-killers. The law also bans work in xenotransplantation and studies of drugs of abuse.  These restrictions pose serious problems for biomedical research in Italy and make it impossible for Italian science to compete with the other European member states.

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) reports the Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the Italian government, as the first step in the infringement procedure. Earlier this year, EARA’s partner organization Research4Life asked the European Commission on behalf of 37 public and private Italian research institutions for the law to be reassessed. The Commission has informed Italy that its animal research law, legislative decree 26/2014, places “excessive restrictions” on the use of animals for scientific purposes and makes it impossible for Italian science to compete with other European member states.