Exclusive interview

Regulatory challenges facing Europe: Exclusive Interview

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Regulatory challenges facing Europe: Exclusive Interview
Ahead of next month’s Cosmetics Europe Annual conference, we caught up the trade body's Technical Regulatory and International Affairs Director to hear his take on the current regulatory landscape for beauty and personal care in Europe.

Gerald Renner gave us insight into the areas of the 2013 Cosmetics Regulation that still need further clarification, and how the industry can get there.

The Cosmetics Europe Annual Conference, 13-14 June 2018,  is a leading event in the European beauty industry calendar, and gathers expert speakers and industry professionals for a crucial knowledge-sharing opportunity.

Full details of the conference and how you can register can be found here​.

What would you say are three of the major challenges currently facing the beauty industry in Europe when it comes to regulation?

Overall, the Cosmetics Regulation, in application since 2013, is running pretty smoothly.

So one of the challenges will certainly be to keep and protect its well-established – and well-functioning - principles and processes when a first major update will come up.

I expect discussions on such an update to start with the new European Commission some time in 2020/2021.

Further work required

There are, however, also some areas in today’s application of the Regulation that still need further work.

This includes a harmonised interpretation on the procedure of banning CMR substances. Currently, Member States enforce this requirement with different interpretations, which leads to a situation that the same substance could be considered as banned in one country and allowed in another.

This creates confusion for economic operators and in essence breaks up the EU’s Internal Market. Luckily for the moment, there are very few substances concerned.

Nanomaterials, nanotechnology

Another area that continues to provide headaches to both, industry and control authorities, is the definition of nanomaterials.

There is a specific notification regime for the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics.

The Cosmetics Regulation also provides a definition of what it considers a nanomaterial, but many stakeholders feel that this definition is not precise enough.

As a consequence – to be on the safe side – companies have notified to the Commission a large number of materials which, at a closer look, are very doubtful to be nanomaterials.

Chemicals and cosmetics: an unclear overlap

Such uncertainty is not helpful, particularly in an area with a very high public sensitivity.

Lastly, the demarcation between chemicals legislation and cosmetics legislation is (still) not well understood.  

This leads to futile debates about regulating cosmetic ingredients based on their hazard properties, ignoring the much more relevant question, i.e. whether the ingredient is safe when used in a cosmetic.

This type of debate is similar to calling for a ban of vinegar in salad sauce, because acetic acid (which gives vinegar the sour taste) in its pure form can be strongly irritant to the eye and skin.

Do you have any thoughts on how we can move forward on these? What interesting developments/innovations have we been seeing?

On all the above topics, we need to continue an open, science-based dialogue with our regulators and stakeholders.

EU cosmetics have an incredible successful track record on safety and efficacy. Not by chance, Europe remains to be the world leader on cosmetics.

Our stakeholders need to understand that the strict and demanding EU Regulation not only ensures a high level of consumer safety but it is also a key factor that contributes to our international success.

Attacking the EU regulation and undermining its fundamental principles is helping neither consumer safety nor EU industry competitiveness.

Having said that, of course our Regulation will evolve – alongside with the evolution of science.

Nobody wants a ‘static’ legislation that very would become obsolete very soon.

The Regulation needs to be able to embrace new technologies and manage newly discovered risks.

As long as the evolution of the Regulation is science based, industry will support it.

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