At a face-to-face meeting in Brussels in February 2012 the Platform Steering Committee membership was confirmed and an Executive Committee established.
This report covers the period from the kick-off meeting of the EU Platform held at the Commission in Brussels in July 2013 until the end of 2014. During this period a total of 12 meetings of the Platform Steering Committee were held (via Skype/ teleconferencing).
Kick-off meeting 5 July 2013 The purpose of the Platform was re-stated and its high level objectives were drafted. An interim Steering Committee with volunteers was established representing experts nominated by the Member States, training providers and accrediting bodies. It was agreed that the Steering Committee should prepare a formal submission to the National Contact Points (NCP) meeting of September 2013 outlining the mission statement, goals, terms of reference and benefits of the Platform. One of the first tasks of the Platform should be the evaluation of the current status of education and training (E & T) in Laboratory Animal Science (LAS) in Member States through the conduct of a questionnaire.
NCP meeting 18/19 September 2013 Member States unanimously endorsed the Platform proposal prepared by the Steering Committee. A number of offers to be Contact points or join the Steering Committee were received. A request for financial support and ideas for the Platform to be self-sustaining was made by the Commission. The European vets association (ESLAV) expressed an interest to be closely involved.
Face-to-face meeting 11 February 2014 This meeting was kindly facilitated by the Commission and allowed Committee members to welcome new members and review progress made by the interim Steering Committee. In order to expedite the daily business of the Steering Committee it was agreed to establish an Executive Committee composed of Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and website co-ordinator. The Steering Committee comprised representatives from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Initial proposals for the development of a framework for mutual acceptance for education and training carried out in EU Member States for those working under Directive 2010/63/EU have been presented in the endorsed E & T document of September 20131. In order to achieve this it was agreed that the Platform should develop principles for setting up and successful operation of approval/accreditation bodies to facilitate harmonisation and mutual recognition. During the face-to-face meeting, the group took the opportunity to commence the task of developing criteria for approval/accreditation of training programmes.
Questionnaire The response rate to the questionnaire was very high with returns from 23 Member States/Competent Authorities and 12 LAS Associations. Support for the Platform was unanimous and there were many suggestions for activities beyond the initial scope. The final report was shared with stakeholders and Contact points in July 2014.
NCP Meeting 9/10 October 2014 A summary of progress in the first year of the Platform was presented at this NCP meeting. An overview of the Constitution document was given together with a review of progress with the short-term objectives. NCP members unanimously agreed that they were prepared to receive AGM reports for comment and communication on activities. An initial proposal, containing principles for mutual acceptance of training courses, was tabled for review and comment by Competent Authorities.
EU Platform Constitution The Platform Steering Committee is grateful for advice and comment received from the Foundation for Science & Technology in the UK during the drafting of this document. It is perceived as a living document as the Platform develops its business. The Platform is structured like a Foundation and, as such, has no fees or members but relies on its contacts and stakeholders for information sharing. The Constitution was adopted at an EGM held in Varese, Italy, and conducted electronically, on 30 October 2014.
Funding The Platform relies heavily on voluntary time provided by its Steering Committee members. Thanks are due to those Member States that have contributed financially to support travel to the face-to-face meeting. Additional thanks are due to FELASA which has financially supported the Chair and Secretariat. A bursary of €4.900 has been granted by Laboratory Animals Limited to fund the establishment of a website and database which will provide a vital communication link. A grant of SEK 100.000 has been received from the Swedish government to fund the activities over the next two years.
EU Commission The Platform operates independently from the Commission. However, the Steering Committee is mindful of its valuable contribution towards hosting meetings and providing dialogue with the NCP. In addition, I am grateful for the personal time and advice provided by the Commission during the establishment of the Platform. At a NCP meeting, in October 2014, it was agreed that the Steering Committee should be represented at future NCP meetings.
Scientific meetings The Platform has been very active trying to publicise the benefits of this new organisation. Presentations have been made at the 9th World Congress of Alternatives & Animal Use in Prague and its satellite meeting at the Institute of Molecular Genetics, the annual meeting of ScandLAS in Stockholm, an international meeting of ICLAS/RusLASA in St. Petersburg, an FGB workshop in Varese and a League of European Research Universities workshop.
Contacts who have asked to receive information about the Platform had reached 105 at the time of the AGM comprising 23 National Competent Authority contacts; 22 contacts involved in accreditation or approval of LAS education and training; 65 people involved in the provision of LAS education and training; and 12 contacts from LAS associations (some contacts have multiple roles). Contact details are held securely by ETPLAS and will not be shared with third parties.
Practical arrangements A number of important business requirements have been established including registered and PO Box addresses and the appointment of a Secretariat.
Future plans The provision of a website is a priority of the Steering Committee now that funds are available. Other immediate activities include publication of a detailed set of objectives together with their timelines. Work will continue through the NCPs to establish principles for mutual acceptance of training.
Thanks are given to all the members of the Steering Committee and the Secretariat for their unfailing support during the establishment of this new organization.