Responding to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), "Save Cruelty-free Cosmetics - Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing," the European Commission (EC) will expedite the phasing out of animal testing, per WWD.
In its response, the EC provided a comprehensive overview of the EU's legislative and policy framework for animal testing. It also proposed creating a "roadmap" to further reduce animal testing. This follows recent allegations and misconceptions that the UK government abandoned the animal testing ban.
See related: Canada Officially Bans Animal Testing for Cosmetics
"The Commission welcomes the initiative and acknowledges that animal welfare remains a strong concern," it wrote. The EC registered the ECI in June 2021 and ECI organizers collected support between August 2021 and 2022. After verifying 1,217,916 statements of support by Member State authorities in January 2023, the organizers submitted the initiative to the EC.
"[The initiative] highlights the leading role of the EU in phasing out the use of animals in testing and improving animal welfare in general," the EC continued. "This is especially reflected in the full ban of animal testing for cosmetics, which has been in place in the EU since 2013."
The EC's roadmap will include legislative and non-legislative actions to further reduce animal testing, "with the aim to ultimately move to an animal-free regulatory system under chemicals legislation (e.g., REACH, Biocidal Product Regulation, Plant Protection Products Regulation and human and veterinary medicines) and continue strongly supporting alternatives to animal testing."
The EC will additionally continue its support to research and develop alternatives to animal testing while exploring the possibility of coordinating the activities of Member States in this field.
3 First Steps
The EC outlined the following first steps it will take in response to specific objectives of the ECI:
Protect and strengthen the ban and review conflicting legislation: The EC emphasized that the EU Cosmetics Regulation already prohibits placing cosmetic products that have been tested on animals on the market. However, the ban does not extend to safety tests required to assess risks from chemicals to workers and the environment under REACH. The interface between the two pieces of legislation is currently being assessed and the EC will consider the outcome of the court cases in view of any future potential legislative changes.
Transform EU chemicals legislation and collaborate on a roadmap: The EC will work with all relevant parties on a roadmap toward chemical safety assessments that are free from animal testing. This roadmap will serve as a guiding framework for future actions and initiatives aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating animal testing in the context of chemicals legislation within the EU.
Support the development of alternatives to modernize science and accelerate reductions in animal testing : The EC does not believe a legislative proposal is necessary to phase out the use of animals in research, training and education and it will continue to support the development alternative approaches with appropriate funding. The EC is also proposing to initiate actions to accelerate the reduction of animal testing in research, education and training, including the possibility to coordinate the activities of Member States and national authorities, hold exploratory workshops and sustain new training initiatives for early career scientists.