ecopa, the European Consensus-Platform on Alternatives, is an international not-for-profit organisation, based in Belgium and complying with Belgian Law. It is the only quadripartite organisation that promotes the Three Rs at the European level. Ecopa brings together national consensus platforms on alternative methods. Consensus means that all parties concerned are represented, including animal welfare, industry, academia and government. Ecopa currently includes the National Platforms of 14 EU Member States (or future Member States; eight full members, namely, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, and six associate members, being the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Poland and Sweden). Ecopa also has three working groups, concerned with: a) the 6th Framework Programme of the EC for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities; b) the EC White Paper Strategy for a Future EU Chemicals Policy; and c) the formation of educational programmes on alternative methods within the EU. Ecopa is thus uniquely placed and has huge expertise to offer to the debate around political topics, including the White Paper, the 6th Framework Programme, and the 7th Amendment of the EU Cosmetics Directive. Ecopa should be considered a key stakeholder by the European Commission and Parliament, and it is essential that the views of ecopa are fully incorporated into future legislation. Recently, the ecopa working groups made a strong common statement on the Chemicals Policy White Paper and made a number of recommendations to the Commission based on scientific, practical and realistic grounds. These are to be found on the ecopa Web site (http://ecopa.tsx.org/ or http://ecopa.vub.ac.be).
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