Cosmetic products tested on animals - MEPs vote for ban (amendments, codecision)

June 12, 2002

Strasbourg, 11 June 2002

Report on the Council common position for adopting a European Parliament and Council directive amending Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products
Doc.: A5-0180/2002 [may not be available yet]

Procedure: Codecision procedure (2nd reading)

Debate: 11.06.2002

Vote. 11.06.2002

An overwhelming majority of MEPs called for an immediate ban on the sale of new cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals where other validated methods exists; MEPs want this to be followed by 31 December 2004 by a complete ban on the sale of any new cosmetics tested on animals, even if no other validated method is available.

A large number of amendments aimed at tightening up legislation were also adopted.

Parliament also adopted an amendment, demanding that the Commission shall agree a timetable of deadlines for each tests currently carried out using animals up to a maximum of five years for all tests but that exceptions may be made for tests concerning repeated dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics, for which there are no alternatives yet under consideration, for which there shall be a maximum of ten years from the date of the adoption of this directive.

At present, it seems highly unlikely that Council will accept Parliament's amendments. Conciliation will therefore be needed.


Opening the longstanding debate on cosmetic testing on animals, the reporter, Dagmar ROTH-BEHRENDT (PES, D) reminded the House that the EU institutions had been working on this subject for many years. The debate has focussed on the protection of consumers' health, balancing this with the guarantee of the EU's competitiveness in the cosmetics industry. There had been widespread support from all political groups for an EU wide marketing ban on products tested on animals which had not been supported by the Member States. This marketing ban was crucial to ensure that animal testing is not simply exported outside the EU.

She stated that the EU had sufficient amounts of cosmetic products and there was no need for further testing on animals. Now was the time to implement both a ban on animal testing and a marketing ban in the EU. Furthermore, the necessity to clearly label allergenic products found in cosmetics was essential as well as clearer labelling for cosmetic products.

For the EPP-ED group, Cristina GARCÍA ORCOYEN TORMO (E) remarked that the present proposal to introduce a marketing ban in the EU as well as banning all products tested on animals was a great improvement to both the common position and the position that the Parliament had held since 1993. She wanted to see a specific timetable to end all testing and for incentives to find alternative methods of product development encouraged. With regard to exceptions to the testing ban, her group would be putting forward an amendment which would allow testing on very specific products, where no alternative has been found, to continue for a further five years.

Phillip WHITEHEAD (East Midlands) for the PES group, declared that this was the most long-standing debate in Parliament that has still to find a conclusion. The Parliament had to be serious about its intentions to introduce a marketing ban in order to send a clear signal both to the cosmetic products industry and to Council, in what would be one of the most important conciliations that the Parliament has ever faced.

For the ELDR group, Chris DAVIES (North West) wanted to see an end to animal testing and a marketing ban. He remarked that the debate had dragged on year on year and it was high time that a ban was introduced. It was now a classic conflict between Council and Parliament, but this should not prevent the ending of animal testing and the introduction of a marketing ban at the earliest moment.

Patricia McKENNA (Dublin) for the EFA/Greens group, said that an immediate ban reflected consumers' opinion across the EU. She called for all products tested on animals to be clearly labelled, and was disappointed that the Commission had not accepted this amendment from first reading. With regard to carcinogens, mutagens and products toxic to reproduction she said that they should be banned from cosmetic products unless it could be demonstrated that their levels did not pose a threat to the health of the consumer.

Jonas SJÖSTEDT (S)or the GUE/NGL group, said that a global solution to animal testing should be found but that the potential WTO problems of introducing a marketing ban within the EU should not be exaggerated.

For the UEN group, Mauro NOBILIA (I) said that the proposed amendments run in the House's tradition of attempting to ban products tested on animals. He cautioned however, that a ban on ingredients used in the production of some cosmetic oils could negatively affect the agricultural sectors of Spain and France.

Hans BLOKLAND (NL) for the EDD group, said that all animals should be treated with respect, and only to carry out animal testing where no scientific alternative could be provided.

John BOWIS (EPP-ED, London) outlined that the whole debate was riddled with hypocrisy. In the UK, which supposedly banned testing on animals, ingredients were still being tested on animals although the final product may not have been tested on animals. He said where no scientific alternative to animal testing had been found, a transition period of up to ten years should be allowed.

Nick CLEGG (ELDR, East Midlands) criticised the Commission for entering into the possibility of a potential WTO dispute. Instead, the EU institutions should introduce both a testing and a marketing ban and deal with any potential WTO dispute later.

Antonios TRAKATELLIS (EPP-ED, GR) was one speaker to emphasise the priority that should be given to human health. While he recognised the need to show respect for animals, he pointed out that alternative forms of testing were not yet available for all products and that, until this was the case, it would be necessary to continue with some form of testing on animals.

Environment Committee Chair, Caroline JACKSON (EPP-ED, South West), on the other hand, backing the majority view in the committee, said it was just unacceptable to allow animals to suffer pain in the interests of finding a new face cream. Giving companies a deadline of five years to come up with an alternative would concentrate minds and bring a new urgency into finding alternatives. She was, however, concerned about some labelling amendments being tabled on the pretext of promoting consumer safety. The reality here was that it would result in too great an extra burden for industry, through the provision of detailed information on the packet that was not necessarily helpful.

Indeed in his reply, Commissioner Erkki LIIKANEN shared her views on this point. While he accepted the principle of a broad listing of substances that could cause an allergy, the detailed provisions, as specified in the amendment, would not be helpful and would also be 'disproportionate' to the risks involved. He could not, therefore, accept this point. Neither could the Commissioner accept the committee's main point of setting a five-year deadline for industry to come up with alternatives. While he shared the objections of many MEPs to animal testing, he said that the Commission and Council preferred to work through international bodies such as the WTO, with the aim of seeking a concerted approach, although he admitted that so far there had been little support for this in the WTO. It was not feasible to impose a total ban at this moment in time since valid alternative methods of testing to ensure health safety were not yet available in all cases. He did, however, share MEPs' concern over the use of substances that could be dangerous.

Vote 12.30 pm

Press enquiries: Ton Huyssoon (Strasbourg) tel.(33) 3 881 74005 (Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 42408 e-mail :

European Parliament Daily Notebook 2002-06-11

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.