The European Commission is currently reviewing Directive 86/609 to take account of technical progress since it was first adopted almost 20 years ago. The directive is transposed into United Kingdom legislation by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
Four technical expert working groups have already provided preliminary advice to the Commission on scope and definitions; severity/cost/benefit; ethical review; and authorisation of procedures. These groups had a strong United Kingdom representation, one of which was chaired by a Home Office official.
Four more detailed technical issues were subsequently referred to the Animal Welfare Committee of the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) for consideration and advice. The Commission is now considering the EFSA advice, and has commissioned a regulatory impact assessment to which the Home Office has recently responded.
The Commission has indicated that it will next produce a consultation document in the summer of 2006. This is expected to take the form of a draft revised directive. The Home Office will respond once it has had the opportunity to consider its content and consult scientific community stakeholders.