The protection and welfare of animals is an area covered by a wide range of EU legislation. This includes the protection of wildlife, zoo animals, farm animals, animals in transport and animals used for scientific purposes. Animal studies, whether for the development or production of new medicines, for physiological studies, for studying environmental effects or for the testing of chemicals or new food additives, has to be carried out in compliance with EU legislation.
Since 1986, the EU has had in place specific legislation covering the use of animals for scientific purposes. On 22 September 2010 the EU adopted Directive 2010/63/EU which updates and replaces the 1986 Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The aim of the new Directive is to strengthen legislation, and improve the welfare of those animals still needed to be used, as well as to firmly anchor the principle of the Three Rs, to Replace, Reduce and Refine the use of animals, in EU legislation. Directive 2010/63/EU took full effect on 1 January 2013.