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During the June 30, 2006, Cosmetics Business Summit held in Brussels, Günter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission responsible for enterprise and industry, addressed three key topics concerning the personal care industry in Europe: the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals program (REACH); animal testing; and improving regulations. In his address, Verheugen stated: “The European personal care industry makes an important contribution to innovation, growth and jobs in Europe. It is providing more than 400,000 jobs and it is a world leader in innovation and the biggest exporter worldwide.”
Furthermore, he added that personal care products are used by almost everyone every day and that it is a common misconception that “cosmetics” are luxury items--they include products such as sunscreens that are important to the well-being and protection of consumers.
He first discussed the REACH program. According to Verheugen, the next stage of negotiations will occur this fall and if they go smoothly, the new law will enter into force in the first half of 2007. He commented: “The cosmetics industry is mainly a downstream user of chemicals. As such [the industry] will greatly benefit from the new law. It will improve the information flow of safety data for ingredients, helping [manufacturers] to assess the safety of products. It is therefore no surprise that the cosmetics industry has always supported the objectives of REACH.” The European Commission reportedly is working on the next challenge: Implementation, which Verheugen sais poses significant challenges.
One issue is the increased cooperation of chemicals suppliers in the registration process. It is said to render registration cheaper, improve the quality of data and reduce the number of animal tests. However, legislators have to be careful that this cooperation does not lead to illegal market behavior.
Another example is the importation of substances. According to Verheugen, “We are not setting up a ‘fortress Europe.’ The importer of a chemical has the same obligations as the manufacturer in Europe. Not more and not less. And I ask those who import cosmetics to please consider REACH as an opportunity--an opportunity to improve knowledge about the substances used and to enhance the safety of products. We are aware of the challenges of implementation and are working on them already.”