Consumer rights group dubs EU Commission’s CMR cosmetics stance ‘unlawful’

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer rights group dubs EU Commission’s CMR cosmetics stance ‘unlawful’
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has released a statement critical of the EU Commission’s recently revised stance on CMR substance use in cosmetics.

In 2016, the European Commission announced that CMR substances (those that can cause cancer, change DNA or harm reproductive health) are no longer subject to the automatic ban that was previously in place.

BEUC’s letter, available here​, states that the consumer group “strongly opposes the Commission’s revised position which may create avoidable and unacceptable health risks for consumers”.

It calls for the EC to reverse its cancellation of the automatic ban.

In the interest of consumer safety, BEUC again insists that the European Commission reconsiders its position and urgently reverts to the previous implementation practice which guaranteed that CMR substances were automatically prohibited for use in cosmetics products.​”

Summary of the BEUC concerns

In the first step in this revised approach, the Commission has proposed an ‘Omnibus Act’ to amend Annexes II, III and V of the Cosmetics Regulation with regard to substances classified as CMR prior to 1 January 2017.

In parallel, the Commission is asking Members of the Cosmetics Working Group to endorse a procedure for the future management of newly classified CMR substances.

BEUC says it “questions the legality of the Commission’s revised approach, which would set aside the principles introduced with the Cosmetics Regulation.

“The Commission seeks to codify its revised approach through implementing measures which de jure would go against the clear wording and meaning of the legislative act authorising such measures in the first instance. That is plainly illegal.​”

Strong rejection

The letter continues in a strongly worded rejection of the suggested changes to CMR regulation.

The revised approach transgresses the powers conferred on the Commission by the Legislator and thus lacks a legal basis – in short it is ultra vires.

“As such, any implementing decision taken as a consequence of the Commission’s revised position on CMR substances, including the proposed Omnibus Act, could under Article 263 TFEU be challenged before the European Court of Justice under an action for annulment.

“In such an event, both legal certainty and the protection of consumer health would be endangered. The ‘CMR ban’ and its implementation directly touches upon the health of millions of consumers across the EU.

“BEUC insists that a decision on the future management of this essential consumer safeguard cannot proceed without a full democratic debate at legislative level.”

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