In the face of Brexit? Harmonising EU cosmetics compliance remains the goal, says regulatory expert

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit - set to happen on October 31 - is leaving us with 'unknown facts', says Dr. Annelie Struessmann - Getty Images
Brexit - set to happen on October 31 - is leaving us with 'unknown facts', says Dr. Annelie Struessmann - Getty Images

Related tags Brexit European union Regulation compliance Uk responsible person Law legislation safety REACH

There are unknown facts around the full impact Brexit will have on cosmetics regulation and compliance, but regulatory knowledge and harmonisation across the European Union must still be prioritised, says the president of Cosmetics Consultants Europe (CCE).

Next month, the European Union – the world’s largest cosmetics and personal care market – is set for a shakeup as the UK finalises its move out of the block on October 31. Dr. Annelie Struessmann, president of Cosmetics Consultants Europe (CCE) and regulatory affairs expert, said the impact this would have on the cosmetics industry, particularly regulation and compliance, was not yet fully clear.

Brexit breakout and knowledge gaps

“Brexit is leaving us with unknown facts on how to deal with the UK and will, upon completion, implement additional compliance requirements for products, which actually comply in the UK under the mutual recognition of the EU,”​ Struessmann told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“This will add another nation to the worldwide scenario of political/economic units with individual regulatory frameworks requiring for each a separate compliance approach.”

The UK’s withdrawal would also impact how cosmetics firms allocated Responsible Persons (RPs) – required under EU law to guarantee compliance and oversee safety of cosmetic products on the market and notify relevant authorities in Member States should a serious undesirable effect occur. Post-Brexit, any EU-based Responsible Persons (RPs) would no longer be recognised by the UK and business in the UK would require a UK-based RP, Struessmann said. Likewise, business in the EU would require an RP based in an EU country rather than the UK. Importantly, in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, she said there appeared to be no transitional period for the RP.

“Preparing for the UK’s withdrawal is not just a matter for the governmental authorities, but also for industry and its supply chains.”

Struessmann said all of this came at a time when there already remained “fundamental gaps”​ in regulatory knowledge in the cosmetics industry, particularly among smaller firms, start-ups and non-EU companies, but also larger firms as science evolved fast.

Mutual understanding and cooperation

The CCE’s upcoming two-day Open Academy event in Cyprus on November 4-5, she said, aimed to fill in some of these knowledge gaps, bringing together expert consultants, legislators and industry officials to tackle a range of important topics.

The event would provide a forum for stakeholders to exchange views, fundamental skills and experiences, she said, but also time to reflect on the diversity of compliance and market surveillance cultures across Europe.

The aim was to “mutually understand each other’s approach”​ and therefore assure “easier and safer compliance work", ​she said, and also work out how best to harmonise and align procedures.

This year’s Open Academy program covered the EU’s cosmetic product regulation​ in detail; REACH legislation​ and what to expect over the next decade; and also provided training on safety assessment.

“Regulation is of critical importance for the access to the world’s largest cosmetics and personal care market, the European Union. Mutual recognition guarantees that any product lawfully sold in one EU country can be sold in each other member state (…) All provisions of the law require comprehensive knowledge and constant update to state-of-the-art science and to compliance affairs.”

“…Let us cooperate in order to harmonise legislation; at the very minimum, let us exchange our information in order to ease regulatory approaches,”​ Struessmann said.

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