In-depth insight from Cosmetics Europe Annual Conference (CEAC) 2021

EC official: No ‘major overhaul’ of Cosmetics Regulation planned under European Green Deal

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The European Commission is embarking on an overview of current legislations and practices in place in cosmetics, with some revisions planned, but there will be no significant changes made right now to the governing EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009 [Getty Images]
The European Commission is embarking on an overview of current legislations and practices in place in cosmetics, with some revisions planned, but there will be no significant changes made right now to the governing EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009 [Getty Images]

Related tags European commission European Green Deal Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Eu legislation Regulation Cosmetics regulation REACH Endocrine disruptors microplastics

The European Green Deal will see plenty of strategies and legislation rolled out to slash carbon emissions, phase out harmful chemicals and drive circular business models, but there will be no major overhaul to the existing EU Cosmetics Regulation, according to deputy director-general of the European Commission’s Department for Growth (DG Grow).

European Green Deal policy and related strategies

The European Green Deal​ – unveiled back in December 2019​ – involved a patchwork of strategies and legislation aimed at driving the European Union to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. And the European Parliament and Council of the European Union met this month to adopt final positions on the European Climate Law​ that would enshrine climate neutrality into law and target a 55% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Within the European Green Deal, certain strategies were set to impact the beauty and personal care industries more specifically, notably the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability​. Adopted in October 2020​, the strategy aimed to completely phase out the most harmful substances on the market across various industries, including cosmetics, and promote safe and sustainable chemical design.

Earlier this year, John Chave, director-general of trade association Cosmetics Europe, said this Strategy, as it stood, would cause significant impact in cosmetics because it was underpinned by the concept of ‘essentiality’. Chave said that moving forward Cosmetics Europe would continue its fight for beauty and personal care to be considered essential​ as the Strategy took hold.

So, just how much change could the beauty industry expect under the wider European Green Deal and specifically its Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability?

Cosmetics Regulation ‘major overhaul’ not necessary

“The Strategy itself refers to changes in the Cosmetics Regulation,”​ said Hubert Gambs, deputy director-general of DG GROW at the European Commission.

“But let me reassure you, we’re not planning a major overhaul of the Cosmetics Regulation at this point in time. I don’t think this is necessary,”​ Gambs told attendees at this month’s online Cosmetics Europe Annual Conference (CEAC 2021).

“…Any future changes will be done in accordance with the Better Regulation principles – consultation, transparency and measuring the impact that regulation would have. Furthermore, the Commission will continue to prioritise science-based policy making.”

Under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, Gambs said what the European Commission would do was embark on an overview of current cosmetic legislation governing classification and labelling of products; revise the process of authorisation and restrictions under REACH Regulation​; and introduce new hazard classes like endocrine disruptors under the Community of Practice for better self- and co-regulation (CoP)​. This, he said, could all be considered part of the European Commission’s “homework” ​ahead of any more significant changes.

What was important moving forward, he said, was that the European Commission and the cosmetics industry clearly had a “common goal” ​regarding the transition to sustainable chemicals.

Collaborative change – cosmetics industry input will be ‘critical’

“During this process, we will examine whether we [need] to amend some provisions under the Cosmetic Regulation, in order to ensure full coherence with REACH and CoP [the Community of Practice for better self- and co-regulation]. But we will do this reflection with you (…) Your input will be critical,”​ Gambs told industry attendees at CEAC 2021.

There would be plenty of regulatory developments that required “the active involvement of the cosmetics industry”, ​he said. ​Some upcoming examples being legislation on intentionally added microplastics and digital labelling. “On both of these, your input will be very important for us in the Commission; to get it right,” ​he said.

Closing his participation at the conference, Gambs said: “I would like to end by emphasising the constant and constructive collaboration built today between the Commission and the EU’s cosmetics sector. And an example I want to mention is that the Commission will continue to support the activities for alternative approaches to animal testing.”

At CEAC this year, a five-year, industry-led global programme aimed at driving and shaping future worldwide uptake and regulatory acceptance of non-animal testing alternatives ‘The New Science Programme’ was unveiled​ by Cosmetics Europe, the Personal Care Products Council, Cosmetics Alliance Canada and several beauty brand leaders.

Gambs continued: “Going far beyond, I’m very well aware and happy my team is working closely with you to ensure the Cosmetics Regulation achieves this delicate balance between a high level of consumer protection and the sustained competitiveness of this important sector. These two objectives are not conflicting; on the contrary, they are constantly complimenting each other and are reinforcing what is our European model.”

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