IAVS urges Irish MEPs to act as million-plus strong European petition against animal testing gains hearing at European Parliament
In an unprecedented milestone, the EU petition against animal testing – known as a ‘European Citizens Initiative’ (ECI) – reached more than 1.2 million validated signatures in January. Ireland’s contribution was validated with 11,211 citizens signing the ECI following campaigning led by the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society (IAVS).
By reaching a million signatures, the ECI qualified to go through to the next stage of the process, involving a hearing at the European Parliament which took place on 25 May 2023.
Before the hearing the IAVS wrote to all Ireland’s 11 MEPs urging them to support the ECI. We also asked our supporters to do the same – with European elections next year, MEPs need to listen to their constituents. We received supportive letters from three MEPs, so far.
Grace O’Sullivan MEP (Green, Ireland South) gave us a substantive reply, including the statement:
"The Greens/EFA group (of which Grace is a member) here in the European Parliament is fully supportive of the ECI and have been consistent on the issue."
Similarly Ciaran Cuffe MEP (Green, Dublin) took the trouble to reply with a positive response, noting his previous advocacy against animal testing:
"A few years ago, I went on Newstalk to debate this issue with a professor in biochemistry. My position then as now is that new technologies spare us from the burden of relying on such crude experimentation."
Claire Daly MEP (Independents for Change, Dublin) told us:
"It is a really important issue. I am a member of the Animal Welfare Intergroup here in the parliament and we take these issues very seriously… we are obviously delighted the event is taking place. Thanks for drawing my attention to it."
Out of the other MEPs, only the office of Frances Fitzgerald MEP (Fine Gael, Dublin) responded, to acknowledge our communication and inform us it would be brought to her attention. We don’t yet know her position on the ECI though.
As of today (26 May 2023) we have not received a response from the following MEPs:
- Dublin constituency: Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil)
- Midlands-North-West constituency: Luke Ming Flanagan (Independent), Chris MacManus (Sinn Féin), Colm Markey (Fine Gael), Maria Walsh (Fine Gael)
- South constituency: Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael), Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil), Seán Kelly (Fine Gael), Mick Wallace (Independents for Change)
We will update this post as and when we receive information about the stances of all the Irish MEPs.
About the Hearing and Next Steps
The hearing was divided into three parts, corresponding with the ECI's three objectives:
- Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban: initiate legislative change to achieve consumer, worker and environmental protection for all cosmetics ingredients without testing on animals for any purpose at any time.
- Transform EU chemicals regulation: ensure human health and the environment are protected by managing chemicals without the addition of new animal testing requirements.
- Modernise science in the EU: commit to a legislative proposal, plotting a roadmap to phase-out all animal testing in the EU, before the end of the current legislative term.
The ECI organisers - Cruelty Free Europe, Eurogroup for Animals, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments which includes the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society (IAVS), Humane Society International/Europe, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - proposed actions for a win-win-win scenario for science, society and animals by supporting once again a plan to transition to non-animal science.
During the hearing, the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs – the Commission’s department for growth – committed to ‘try to be as ambitious as we can possibly be’ in reaching their ‘ultimate goal of phasing out animal testing in the long-term’. This was reiterated by Ms Carmen Laplaza Santos, of the EC’s Health Innovations & Ecosystems unit, who promised the Commission’s final and detailed response to the Initiative by the end of July.
Over ten million animals—cats, dogs, rabbits, mice and others—are harmed every year in research and testing in laboratories around Europe. European citizens are demanding an end to the use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical tests, as well as an achievable plan to transition to a science without the use of animals.
This overwhelming public support echoes the position taken in 2021 by the European Parliament, which led to a resolution calling on the European Commission to coordinate, together with Member States, a concrete plan to accelerate the transition to non-animal testing.
"Citizens are calling on the EC to take a leadership role in the transition to non- animal science and drive a new way of thinking without animal experiments. We would like to thank the citizens, the NGOs, the researchers, the industry, the governments and the members of parliament that already support these goals. This ECI shows that EU citizens share many of this Parliament’s positions as laid out in the EP Resolution. We are confident that the EP will help to break the cycle of harms that come with animal experimentation, by supporting once again the end of all animal testing for cosmetics, no additional animal tests for safety assessments, and a roadmap to accelerate the transition to non-animal research, regulatory testing, and education,"
commented Sabrina Engel, chair of the organising committee for the ECI.