In the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme, the HERMES project addresses the challenges raised by the Directive 2010/63/EU of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, which establishes that “Member States should ensure through authorisation or by other means that staff are adequately educated, trained and competent”. To fulfil the requirements under Articles 23 and 24 of the Directive 2010/63/EU, a common education and training framework for protecting animals used for scientific purposes has been developed by an Expert Working Group (EWG) established by the European Commission.
At the same time, the EU Platform for Education and Training in Laboratory Animal Science (ETPLAS) was created. It represents a forum for exchanging information on laboratory animal science education and training in the view to promote harmonisation in training and free movement of competent personnel in the EU. In its pillar document titled “Minimal Requirements for Mutual Recognition of Courses in Laboratory Animal Science”, ETPLAS recommends that agreement at the European level on the minimal requirements of education and training (E&T) in Laboratory Animal Science (LAS) should be sought for assuring the welfare of animals, as well as free movement of personnel.
Thus, a need for developing common principles and requirements for Laboratory Animal Science Education &Training (LAS E&T) courses across the EU arises, including the definition of common quality standards. This is further reinforced by the consideration that, without mutual recognition of training and acceptance of a person’s training/competence records, free movement of professionals involved in the use and care of animals for scientific purposes across the EU could be hindered.
Since arrangements of LAS education and training is at the discretion of the EU Member States (MS), often overseen and managed through their nominees, different requirements for assuring the quality of LAS E&T courses may be found. Different quality standards may in turn lead to a variable quality of the welfare of research animals in LAS.
EU Member States should therefore be supported in order to guarantee mutual recognition of established LAS E&T, based upon better confidence in the quality of E&T and its assessment process by relevant stakeholders. Such principles could also be beneficial to aid training providers in setting up courses of agreed quality and content.