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EARA 10th anniversary: Why EARA was founded

Updated: Jun 24

The first EARA General Assembly, held in Paris, on 15 October 2014.

In 2013, a meeting was organised in Brussels by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) to discuss growing animal rights activism across Europe. This followed the decision in the previous year by several ferry companies to halt transporting research animals across the English Channel, and also from the UK to Ireland, which compounded the feeling that activists across Europe were gaining the upper hand and were beginning to exert pressure on the supply chain for biomedical research.

The Brussels meeting addressed both the lack of a co-ordinated response by the research community, and the absence in many European countries of any effective proactive communications to the public and regulators on the continued use and value of animals used for scientific purposes.

Representatives from the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI), and Understanding Animal Research (UAR), volunteered to co-ordinate efforts to create a pan-European project aimed at countering this rise in activism, improving public understanding of animal research and addressing the critical lack of choice in transporting animals between the UK and the rest of Europe.

In the summer of 2013, following a number of public and private discussions a consortium of organisations (AAALAC International, AstraZeneca, Covance (now Labcorp), EFPIA, Ellegard Göttingen Minipigs, GIRCOR, Harlan (now Inotiv), Mario Negri Institute, Marshall BioResources, Sanofi, UAR, plus with the support of Farmindustria) agreed to collaborate in the creation of a pan-European advocacy and communications organisation.

At that time the project that became EARA had no association status, no name, no office and no bank account. The administrative tasks, supplying office logistics for EARA, and distributing the initial funding to be used to scope out the potential organisation was voluntarily undertaken by UAR, on behalf of the consortium backing the project. An interim director, was hired with funding from the Consortium, which was distributed through UAR.

During this initial period the focus was on gathering prospective members of the planned association to discuss the remit and scope of any organisation, and to gain in principle promises of financial support. Following this six-month scoping exercise, a sufficient number of organisations agreed to support a three-year project (this was an informal understanding). It was decided to name the organisation the European Animal Research Association (EARA).

Key individuals from the consortium and supporting organisations were identified to form a Board of Management and articles of association for the new organisation were drafted, with EARA incorporated at Companies House, in the UK, on 5 March, 2014, as a separate legal entity from all founder organisations. Following a Europe-wide recruitment process and in-depth interviews carried out by representatives of the founding consortium, with a number of excellent candidates, Kirk Leech was appointed executive director of EARA, on 14 April, 2014.

The EARA Board meets in Paris, 15 October, 2014.

The stated objective for EARA was to facilitate national initiatives (information and advocacy) in support of continuing quality biomedical research involving the regulated use of live animals in Europe. The first EARA General Assembly was held, in Paris, on 15 October 2014, at the offices of Sanofi (see headline picture).

After a successful growth in membership, in 2016 the Board of Management of EARA decided to seek endorsement from the EARA membership to continue the existence of EARA beyond its initial three-year period. A justification for this extension and a proposal was put to the 2017 EARA General Assembly. This was unanimously supported, and EARA then developed its first five-year strategy.



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