The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission (EC) have come under criticism for their advice on the overlap between the REACH framework and the Cosmetics Regulation, with animal rights group PETA making an official complaint to the European Ombudsman.
Indeed, the European Ombudsman states it has now launched an official inquiry into whether the statement in question contains guidance on animal testing that is contrary to EU law, and whether it will result in certain cosmetics being wrongly labelled as free from animal testing, "thus confusing and misleading consumers".
The two organisations have until 2 December to reply to the Ombudsman’s request for a response to the allegations, and have already announced they are considering a revision of the statement.
The statement under inquiry, which is available on the ECHA website, details instances where the ECHA and EC believe REACH would permit animal testing for cosmetics in the EU, even though the practice is banned under the Cosmetics Regulation.
The two organisations now state they are “examining whether as a result of this [the European Court of Justice’s] judgement there is a need to revise their joint statement”.
The court found that EU law dictates there can be no exceptions to the ban, regardless of where the testing takes place. No data derived from animal testing may be used to prove the safety of cosmetics products for the purposes of placing them on the EU market, the ruling stated.
Focus on alternatives
The court came out in favour of upholding the ban fully, noting allowing exceptions would undermine efforts to develop appropriate testing alternatives.
The current law in the EU that prohibits the sale of products tested on animals aims to promote the use of alternative methods, 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.”
Michelle Thew, chief executive of Cruelty Free International and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, spoke in praise of the court’s ruling.
“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.