The evaluation of a project is based on national and international guidelines as laid down in the Act of 14 August 1986, concerning the protection and welfare of animals, and the Royal Decree (RD) of 29 May 2013 concerning the protection of laboratory animals. This RD is a direct consequence of the new European Directive 2010/63 / EU on the use of animals for scientific purposes.
For the evaluation of a project the ECAE uses a research proposal to the model of an ethical matrix form. The ECAE schedules a monthly consultation with the responsible researchers of the submitted projects, in which the dialogue between the researchers and the ECAE members forms the basis for the decision.
The project evaluation is carried out comprehensively, tuned to the type of project and is specifically intended to verify whether the project meets the following criteria:
- the project is legally required or justified from a scientific or educational perspective
- the purposes of the project justify the use of animals; if alternatives exist, it is forbidden to use laboratory animals
- the project has been set up in such a way that animal testing is carried out as humane and environmentally friendly as possible
The project evaluation includes in particular:
- an assessment of the objectives of the project and the predicted scientific benefits or educational values
- an assessment of whether the project is in line with the required replacement, reduction and refinement
- an assessment of the classification of the project according to the severity of the animal tests
- a damage-benefit analysis of the project, in which it is verified whether the damage in the form of suffering, pain and fear of the animals is justified by the expected result, taking into account ethical considerations, and in the long term can yield benefits for humans, animals or environment
- an assessment of the scientific justifications
- a list of humane endpoints; these are criteria to prevent more inconvenience to an animal than is strictly necessary for the purpose of the experiment (for example by killing the animal or taking other appropriate measures).
Every change to the research proposal (e.g. the number of animals to be used, the research methods used, the duration of the animal experiment) must be submitted to the ECAE for approval before being allowed to continue the experiment. An interim evaluation of the already performed experiments must also be added to the research protocol.
An application for approval by the ECAE must also contain a non-confidential non-technical summary (NTS) of the research proposal. This summary contains information about the objectives of the animal experiment, the number and types of test animals used. This summary should also provide an estimate of the predicted damage and benefits of the animal experiment and at the same time demonstrate that the required replacement, reduction and refinement of animal testing are met. The summaries of the approved projects are made public.