Issues Magazine

Full EU Ban on Animal Testing for Cosmetics Enters into Force


Source: Europa

In March the final deadline to phase out animal testing of cosmetic products in Europe entered into force. As of 11 March 2013, cosmetics tested on animals could not be marketed anymore in the European Union (EU).

A communication adopted by the European Commission confirms the Commission’s commitment to respect the deadline set by Council and Parliament in 2003, and outlines how it intends to further support research and innovation in this area while promoting animal welfare worldwide.

European Commissioner in charge of Health & Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, stated: “… entry into force of the full marketing ban gives an important signal on the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare. The Commission is committed to continue supporting the development of alternative methods and to engage with third countries to follow our European approach. This is a great opportunity for Europe to set an example of responsible innovation in cosmetics without any compromise on consumer safety.”

The Commission has thoroughly assessed the impacts of the marketing ban, and considers that there are overriding reasons to implement it. This is in line with what many European citizens believe firmly: that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing.

The quest to find alternative methods will continue as full replacement of animal testing by alternative methods is not yet possible. The Communication published outlines the Commission’s contribution to the research into alternative methods and the recognition that these efforts must be continued. The Commission has made about €238 million available between the years 2007 and 2011 for such research. The cosmetics industry has contributed as well, for example by co-funding the SEURAT (Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing) research initiative with €25 million.

The leading and global role of Europe in cosmetics requires reaching out to trading partners to explain and promote the European model and to work towards the international acceptance of alternative methods. The Commission will make this an integral part of the Union’s trade agenda and international cooperation.

Directive 2003/15/EC introduced provisions in relation into animal testing into the Cosmetic Directive 76/768/EEC. Accordingly, animal testing in the Union has been prohibited since 2004 for cosmetic products and since 2009 for cosmetic ingredients (“testing ban”). As from March 2009, it has been prohibited to market in the Union cosmetic products containing ingredients which have been tested on animals (“marketing ban”). For the most complex human health effects (repeated-dose toxicity, including skin sensitisation and carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics) the deadline for the marketing ban was extended to 11 March 2013.