WRITTEN QUESTION E-2626/00 by Esko Seppänen (GUE/NGL) to the Commission. The WTO and animal testing of cosmetics.
OJ C 89E , 20.3.2001, p. 214–215 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-2626/00
by Esko Seppänen (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(1 August 2000)
Subject: The WTO and animal testing of cosmetics
What negotiating strategy does the EU intend to adopt in any WTO negotiations on banning animal testing of cosmetics? What is the Commission's position on the possibility of banning the marketing within the EU of products which have been tested on animals?
Joint answer to Written Questions E-2625/00 and E-2626/00 given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission
(6 October 2000)
The Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) toxicity test guidelines detail test methods that are internationally accepted and recommended to be used to ensure the safety of all industrial chemicals (such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, dangerous substances, and cosmetic ingredients). Their aim is to avoid the multiplication of different test methods in countries and then the duplication of tests. The Community has the obligation to accept the results of tests done with animals in other third countries because of the mutual acceptance of data agreement. In other words, animal testing on cosmetic ingredients in the Community can be banned, but if someone wants to put on the Community market some cosmetic products containing ingredients that they have tested on animals in a third country using adopted OECD guidelines and good laboratory practice to determine their intrinsic properties, the Community should accept those results. A ban on the marketing of products which have been tested on animals would imply the repetition of tests using alternative methods, and this would set up a barrier to trade and could impact upon any favourable position taken upon the acceptability of European in vitro data.
The OECD has recently started to negotiate the adoption of guidelines on in vitro methods validated by the Community. The Commission will therefore continue to work with the OECD and will endeavour to gain OECD-wide regulatory acceptance of alternative methods to animal testing already validated at Community level. The goal will be to implement such methods through the adoption of OECD guidelines in order to ensure a real benefit to animal welfare on a more global level.
The Commission recognises the value of developing multilateral agreements on standards for animal welfare. Those standards, based on scientific advice, would give the best guarantee that animal welfare measures are not misused for protectionist purposes.
Concerning the possibility of banning the marketing within the Community of products which have been tested on animals whether such products are manufactured in the Community or imported from third countries the Commission considers that a ban on imports on the grounds that they have been tested on animals may not be compliant with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules (Articles III and XX of General agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) 1994 and Article 2
of the technical barriers to trade (TBT) Agreement). These rules prohibit discriminatory measures between similar products. According to WTO rules, there is no difference between cosmetics tested on animals and those tested in vitro, and therefore there is no justification to discriminate between them. A general marketing ban therefore may lead to a dispute, particularly with the United States and Japan.
On this basis, the Commission has adopted a proposal(1) for a Directive of the Parliament and of the Council amending for the seventh time Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products(2), which would have the effect of changing the present marketing ban into a ban on animal testing within the Community. At the same time, the Commission will do all possible to encourage the international adoption of alternatives to animal tests, both in bilateral discussions and in OECD.
(1) COM(2000) 189 final.
(2) OJ L 262, 27.9.1976.