The European Commission (EC) has issued a formal response to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Save Cruelty-free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing. Launched in 2021, this initiative sought to urge the Commission to uphold and strengthen the ban and transition towards adopting animal-free safety assessment methods.

The initiative called on the EC to (1) protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban; (2) transform EU chemicals regulation; and (3) modernise science in the EU.

The European Commission has responded outlining the following actions in response to those specific objectives:

1. Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban.
The EU Cosmetics Regulation, in place since 2013, already bans the placing on the market of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals to meet the requirements of the regulation.  However, there are ingredients used in cosmetic products that are equally used in other consumer and industrial products, where animal testing might be required. For instance, the EU Chemicals Legislation (REACH) may require animal testing on a substance that might also be used as a cosmetic ingredients for the assessment of risks to workers and the environment, unless non-animal methods (e.g. computer modelling, read-across, weight of evidence) are available for this purpose[1].

In its official response, the EC acknowledged this context and stated that “the interpretation of the interface between the two regulations is currently being scrutinised by the General Court in two ongoing court cases. The outcome of these Court cases will be analysed by the Commission and will be the basis for any potential legislative changes in the future.”

2. Transform EU chemicals regulation
To address concerns regarding animal testing in the context of chemicals legislation, including REACH, the Commission will establish a roadmap outlining specific milestones and concrete actions to reduce animal testing. This roadmap will steer the transition towards an animal-free testing system for chemicals.

3. Modernise science in the EU
While the Commission does not share the view that a legislative proposal is required to reach the goal of phasing out the use of animals in research, training and education; it does propose a series of actions to accelerate the reduction of animal testing. These actions include conducting exploratory workshops and supporting new training initiatives for early career scientists.

NATRUE position
As an international organisation that works to promote and protect natural and organic cosmetics all around the world, animal testing is fundamentally against NATRUE’s underlying values and ethics. NATRUE’s position is explained in further detail in NATRUE’s statement on animal testing.

These values are embedded within the NATRUE Label criteria, which extends the animal testing ban, as regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, to certified finished cosmetic products carrying the Label together with a marketing ban of NATRUE certified finished products to third countries outside the EU where animal testing is required.

NATRUE advocates for an approach that contributes to avoiding animal testing of cosmetics globally, and supports the broader transformative process towards animal-free testing of chemicals.