The European Parliament has voted to impose a sales ban on all new cosmetic products that have been tested on animals.
The 626-member European Union assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted in favour of some 30 amendments that strengthen existing EU rules on cosmetic products.
An immediate ban will take effect for products where alternative testing exists, if EU governments give their approval to the new legislation.
The proposed rules will phase in a ban by January, 2005 on all new cosmetic products - including make-up, shower gels, shampoos, and creams - using ingredients tested on animals, even if alternative tests have not been developed.
The ban will also apply to all imports of animal-tested cosmetics.
"Those products should no longer be sold," said German socialist member Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, who authored the legislative bill.
"Alternative methods must be applied and used... Eventually, this should lead to a full ban on sales of all products where animal testing was used."
The proposed new legislation comes after three years of political wrangling between the European Parliament and the European Commission, which postponed an earlier ban which had been due to take effect in 1998.
The EU executive said it delayed the ban because there was a lack of alternative testing for cosmetic manufacturers. It fears the ban now being proposed could be challenged at the World Trade Organisation by the EU's trading partners, who may argue it a trade barrier disguised as animal protection measures.
EU assembly members have also passed an amendment to introduce labels for those products that continue to rely on animal testing, rather than alternative methods like clinical cell or bacterial testing.