Answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission
In July 2009, the Commission convened a two-day expert working group meeting with participation from all main stakeholders (e.g science/academia, industry, animal welfare organisations, other specialist groups) as well as Member States in order to contribute to ongoing discussions between the institutions on the revision of Council Directive 86/609/EEC. The objective was in particular to discuss issues linked to lower and upper thresholds for pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm, as well as to develop definitions and examples for different severity categories.
As regards ‘the upper threshold’, there was broad convergence on the fact that the upper threshold is exceeded if the animals may experience severe pain, suffering or distress which is likely to be long-lasting and cannot be ameliorated. Concerning the need to go beyond this threshold, the experts were unable to bring forward any example derived from existing practices which would fulfil the criteria to exceed the upper threshold as described.
The results of the expert working group are publicly available on the Commission website
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/ewg_en.htm, and they were also forwarded to the Council Presidency and Parliament for their consideration in the context of the ongoing co-decision process on the revision of the directive.
Once adopted, the Commission will continue to work closely with Member States and stakeholders to promote a consistent implementation and common understanding of its provisions.
-  Council Directive 86/609/EEC of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, OJ L 358, 18.12.1986.