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Landmark court case upholds EU ban on animal testing: no exceptions

By Lucy Whitehouse + , 22-Sep-2016
Last updated on 23-Sep-2016 at 11:26 GMT2016-09-23T11:26:56Z

Landmark court case upholds EU ban on animal testing: no exceptions

An EU court has ruled there are to be no exceptions in the region’s ban on cosmetics products that are tested on animals.

Currently in the EU, no products are allowed to be tested on animals and no products can be sold in the region if they have been tested on animals elsewhere.

A trade body, the European Federation of Cosmetics Ingredients (EFCI), had hoped to find a route around the ruling for brands who test their products on animals in other markets (and in some scenarios, within the EU) and brought a case arguing this to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Despite being backed by the French Government, the court came down in favour of upholding the animal testing ban fully.

"The Court states next that EU law makes no distinction depending on where the animal testing was carried out," the court asserted in a statement.

What the EFCI hoped for

The industry body that brought the case to court, the EFCI, represents over 100 cosmetics companies across Europe.

It argued that cosmetics companies should be able to test products on animals, as long as the tests are carried out under legislation other than the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

This would mostly be in other markets, but potentially also within the EU as long as it was done under legislation separate from the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

However, yesterday the court came down in favour of an advisory ruling from March this year which recommended that the industry’s argument is rejected, and find that the beauty industry cannot rely on animal test data to support the safety of products, regardless of where that data is generated.

The current law in the EU prohibiting the sale of products tested on animals aims to promote the use of alternative methods to meet consumer safety standards, the court said, and that "objective would be seriously compromised if the prohibitions... could be circumvented by carrying out the animal testing in third countries.

A win for animal rights groups

Two animal rights groups took part in court proceedings in order to defend the current status of the animal testing ban, Cruelty Free International and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, the ECEAE.

Speaking of the ruling, Michelle Thew, chief exec of both groups, said this week’s court ruling will uphold the integrity of the ban and send a strong signal to the industry.

We are very pleased that EFCI’s attempt to circumnavigate the ban has today been roundly rejected by the Court. This is a victory both for common sense, and for the public who passionately back the landmark animal testing ban. We urge national regulators to stay vigilant and ensure that the cosmetics ban is upheld,” she said.

As the UK is set to leave the EU following the referendum earlier this year, it will no longer be bound by EU law. However, the CTPA assures the industry that the UK will continue to impose a ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

"We would like to stress that the UK cosmetics industry voluntarily abandoned animal testing seven years ahead of the EU-wide ban, so you can be assured this is not going to change," the industry body affirmed in a recent statement.

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