Brussels, 16 Jan 2003
The European Parliament approved a conciliation agreement to begin phasing out the use of animals in the testing and marketing of cosmetic products and ingredients on 15 January.
The agreement forms the seventh amendment to the cosmetics directive 76/768/EEC . The main objective of the directive is the harmonisation of national laws concerning cosmetic products with a view to improving animal welfare without jeopardising consumer safety and human health protection.
The directive calls upon the European Commission to establish timetables for the prohibition of the marketing of cosmetics products. A test and market ban will enter into force within six years where alternative methods for testing cosmetic products are available. However, in the case of tests, where no alternative is available, such as repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics, a market ban will take effect 10 years from the date of entry into force of this directive.
The European Commission warmly welcomed the conciliation agreement. 'The solution found offers a genuine benefit to animal welfare whilst safeguarding consumer health protection and our international commitments,' said Mr Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, in response to the agreement.
Specific provisions are also made within the approved text for the labelling requirements of 26 allergenic substances and the improvement of safety requirements for products for children and intimate hygiene. The agreement will also see the introduction an 'after opening date' on product labels, a date by which a product should be used after opening. A ban will also be enforced on certain substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction.
Mr Liikanen clarified the Commission's position: 'For the Commission, one of the key elements is the incentive to be given to the development of alternative methods and the improvement of the validation process.'
The directive stipulates that alternative methods for testing shall be validated and adopted at the Community level or approved as being scientifically validated by the European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), which is part of the Institute of Health and Consumer Protection at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.
Mr Liikanen described the provisions made for making mandatory the use of all alternative methods, at the earliest opportunity and as soon as scientifically validated as '[...] a good improvement for animal welfare and a clear political signal.'
The directive also calls for better coordination of resources at Community level in order to increase the scientific knowledge indispensable for the development of alternative methods. Strong emphasis is placed on the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) as an instrument in the 'the promotion of research and the development of new non-animal alternative methods.'
Mr Liikanen expressed the need for the European Union to 'play a leading role to promote the development of animal testing at an international level.' The directive encourages recognition by non-member countries of alternative methods developed by the EU. Such measures should be carried out 'with due regard to the development of validation within OECD [Organisation for economic cooperation and development].'
The Council of Ministers is expected to follow the Parliament's example and formally approve the ban by the end of January 2003.
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