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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Lay persons involvement and public interest. Ethical assessment in animal ethics committees in Sweden. The Swedish transition process of the EU Directive 2010/63/EU with regard to harm-benefit analysis in animal ethics committees

Röcklinsberg, Helena


The Messerli Research Institute asked me to give a presentation of the Swedish situation with regard to the implementation of the Directive 2010/63/EU, for which I’m most grateful. Given that the administrative and legal transition process is not of primary interest as relatively small changes were made in Swedish legislation, the focus here will rather be on a few issues which are typical for Sweden and relevant for the application of the Directive: lay person involvement in the ethical assessment, i.e. the decision-making process in the ethical review, as prescribed by the Swedish Animal Welfare Act (SFS 1988:534). In Sweden, a system of Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) was initiated in 1976, fully established in 1979 and located at a number of civil courts, i.e., not governed by or located at universities or other research facilities. Since then it has been mandatory to apply for permission for all research including animals. The AECs included lay persons from the beginning. In 1989, however, today’s system of half of the committee members being lay persons and the other half representing science came into force. During the first 19 years, decisions were advisory, as decisions on approval or rejection didn’t become legally binding before 1998. The regulation for the composition of the AECs has not changed due to the implementation of the EU Directive, but differs from the ones of many other EU Member States. Half the committee members are lay persons, but have a difficult task to ensure “public perspectives” in the ethical assessment. In this regard, I briefly discuss the role of transparency as laid down in the Swedish legislation and relate this to recent studies on decision-making in Swedish AECs, arguing for improved structure of discussion in order to ensure lay persons’/society’s views are included in the assessment process.


decision-making; hierarchies; open discourse; public involvement; transparency

Published in

ALTEX Proceedings
2015, Volume: 4, number: 1, pages: 45-48
Book title: Altex Proceedings. Proc. of a symposiym at the Messerli Research Institute, Vienna, March 2013
Publisher: Springer Spektrum


Symposiym at the Messerli Research Institute