EU legalises further animal testing

We cannot guarantee British animal welfare standards while we are in the EU, which is yet another reason why we must Get Britain Out

by Tim Aker on 8 January 2013 09:29

EU-enthusiasts laud the single market as the reason why Britain should stay in the European Union. We’ve heard it all before. It was the Common Market, now it’s the ‘single market’. On the Continent, however, it’s all about harmonisation and ‘solidarity’, the ceaseless march towards ‘ever closer union’. Behind the single market lies a legislative machine that won’t just confine itself to trade. EU law is supreme and if you’re going to create ever closer union, then you can’t just restrict legislation to matters of trade.

It will therefore come as a surprise to some that from January 1st a new EU law came into force that will dramatically reduce animal welfare standards in the UK.  

New EU-wide animal welfare rules, under Directive 2010/63, will widen the scope for animal testing and introduce brutal methods of killing animals. It even sanctions testing on stray pets.

While this might be an improvement for some EU states, in the UK it will mean taking a significant step backwards. It is believed that these changes could greatly increase the suffering involved. Last year there were 3.7 million experiments carried out on animals, including 2,865 on dogs and 1,459 on primates.

Article 55 is particularly worrying. It essentially allows member states to disregard key animal rights rules whenever they deem it necessary, causing great concern among the RSPCA and other animal lovers.

These new methods include bludgeoning young puppies and kittens to death, beheading birds, and in certain circumstances experimenting on great apes, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans - none of this is currently allowed under our own UK laws.  (P40/Annex4)

The rules say “animals must be killed with minimum pain, suffering and distress.” However, do you really believe killing animals with a “percussive blow to the head”, electrocuting them, shooting them, and decapitating small birds is likely to cause them “minimal pain”?

All the methods of killing outlined are allowed as long as there are “scientifically justifiable grounds”  (p.18), while UK law used to ban this.

Legalising inhumane killing methods, lowering standards of accommodation and care, and the evasion of constraints on primate use – all this will cause animals unnecessary suffering, distress and pain.

It could easily be argued that previous EU rules make this new directive on animal testing inevitable.  

The EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulations forced the re-testing of all chemicals in the EU, with some estimates suggesting 54 million animals will have to be tested on in order to meet the requirements of the regulation.

That’s the ‘single market’ for you. Create a problem and create the need for more pan-EU so-called “solutions” and the conditions for negative externalities. That’s what we have with REACH. It comes into force and as a consequence the EU needs to broaden animal testing in order to re-test all chemicals in the EU, plenty of which have been in safe use for decades, even centuries, creating needless suffering for millions of animals.

This should be a wakeup call for voters who traditionally have been in favour of the EU. It may have paraded itself as a guarantor of animal rights, yet REACH and the current animal testing directive proves the EU is the opposite. We clearly cannot guarantee British animal welfare standards while we are in the EU, which is yet another reason why we must Get Britain Out.

Tim Aker is the Campaign Manager of Get Britain Out. Follow them on twitter @GetBritainOut and on Facebook 

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