WRITTEN QUESTION E-2056/02 by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE) to the Commission. Animal testing for cosmetics.
OJ C 192E , 14.8.2003, p. 44–45 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-2056/02
by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(11 July 2002)
Subject: Animal testing for cosmetics
The European Parliament has recently approved a Recommendation for second reading on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to adopting a European Parliament and Council directive amending Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products (A5-0180/2002) requiring a phasing-out of the sale within the European Union of new cosmetic (but not medical) products that have been tested on animals after a given date. The Commission has declared on several occasions that it believes that such a ban would conflict with WTO rules, although there has never been a test case.
Could the Commission state which WTO regulation or regulations make the Parliament's position incompatible, in the view of the Commission, with the European Union's WTO obligations? Does the Commission believe that acceptance by the Council of the Parliament's position would discriminate in any way against non-EU firms, and, if not, does the Commission believe that an organisation such as the WTO is likely to command broader public support if there is sufficient flexibility within its rules to allow for measures designed to reduce animal suffering or to enhance environmental protection in cases where there is no attempt to use such measures for protectionist purposes?
Finally, can the Commission confirm that if there is no agreement in Council then earlier legislation with similar effect will automatically come into force, and, if so, on what date?
Answer given by Mr Lamy on behalf of the Commission
(3 September 2002)
The marketing ban proposed by the Parliament could create trade barrier to imports from third countries whose laws require testing of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients on animals in order to ensure consumer safety. This ban could potentially be challenged under, inter alia, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Articles III, XI and XX of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
It would discriminate against like products (GATT Article III.4, TBT Article 2.1). A cosmetic tested in animals is the same as one tested by alternative means, and yet the Community would ban one and permit the other.
It would impose Community testing requirements upon foreign producers. If their country has different requirements that cannot be reconciled with Community requirements, the producers could be prevented from exporting to the Community. This could discriminate against foreign producers who cannot possibly conform to two conflicting sets of rules.
The Commission has noted public concern about an apparent disregard of the WTO for animal welfare considerations. That is precisely why the Community has consistently promoted animal welfare as a subject for discussions in future WTO negotiations, and will continue to do so. However, the Commission believes it would damage its longer term objectives if it took a unilateral approach on this dossier.
The Commission confirms that the marketing ban, as introduced in the 6th amendment of Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products(1), came into force legally on 1 July 2002, as the Parliament and Council could not agree on a new text. However, the Commission is considering a proposal through its comitology procedure for a postponement of the entry into force until a later date, in order to avoid unnecessary disruption and uncertainty in the market.
(1) OJ L 262, 27.9.1976.