Research with animals is considered necessary to obtain certain vital knowledge for advancing health research and innovation, but the harm such research may cause animals is ethically problematic. The European legislation regulating animal experimentation is based on the need to balance the two important interests at stake: advancing research and protecting animal welfare. The public sensitivity of the issue is evidenced by the exceptional participation in the legislative process leading to a revised European legislation. Directive 2010/63/EU (presently under transposition into Member State legislation) will bring about substantial changes compared to the previous directive dating from 1986. One of the main objectives of revising this legislation is to create a greater harmonization of the governance of the use of animals in scientific (including medical) research for the European research area. The transposition is being accompanied by European Commission initiatives to promote a common interpretation of the legislation. However, major determinants of how research in Europe will be affected remain largely uncharted, in that little is published about how legal, ethical and scientific decisions about research will be made and how regulation will influence these decisions. A multidisciplinary team of academic researchers from different EU Member States will use literature reviews, questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups to provide a deeper understanding of how the regulation interacts with research and innovation through the new common legal framework for animal experimentation in the EU. ANIMPACT will address the effectiveness of the new Directive and the current law in relation to other established norms in ethics, law, and scientific research, with focus on its interaction with ethics review and project licensing processes. The project will further consider the impact of the Directive on academic and commercial competitiveness as well as on animal welfare.
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