European Commission to Simplify Cosmetics Directive

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According to a report by the European Commission (EC), it has has proposed simplification of the European law on cosmetics. According to EC, the European Union (EU) Cosmetics Directive from 1976 has become a “patchwork” of 55 amendments without coherent terminology. Today’s proposal aims at strengthening product safety while reducing costs for businesses. For example, requirements for product safety assessments are clarified and simplified notification rules for new cosmetics cut administrative costs for enterprises by 50%. The existing provisions on the ban and phasing-out of animal-tests for cosmetic products by 2009/2013 remain untouched.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policies, said in the announcement: “The law on cosmetics is an example how a piece of EU legislation can be 'ripe' for simplification. Working with 27 different transposing legislations is more costly and burdensome for the cosmetics industry than necessary. With today’s proposal we increase product safety while reducing administrative costs and scratching unnecessary legislation.”

The Cosmetics Directive sets the legal framework to ensure the safety of cosmetics. The differences in the 27 national transposing laws reportedly create additional costs for industry without contributing to product safety. Many provisions appear in the wrong context and the detailed regulation of individual substances used for cosmetics has proven very complex, resource-intensive and difficult to administer. With the proposal of a new regulation, the Commission pursues essentially two aims: ensuring a high level of safety of cosmetic products in the future by strengthening manufacturer responsibility and in-market control aspects while cutting unnecessary administrative burden.

To this end, the Commission proposal intends to: clarify minimum requirements for the safety assessment of cosmetic products thus strengthening further the safety of cosmetic products placed on the EU market; establishing concrete rules for reporting of undesirable effects to the supervising authorities, product withdrawal and coordination of enforcement among member states authorities; simplifying notification requirements that will, in turn, cut administrative costs for cosmetic companies by 50%; and "scrapping" national laws and regulations amounting to over 3,500 pages of legal text in the EU by introducing a single EU-law for cosmetics.

For more information on the proposed changes or to view the existing Cosmetics Directive, visit the EU Web site.

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