Thank you for your email to Keith Taylor MEP, which he has asked me to respond to on his behalf. Please accept my apologies for the delay in doing so – Keith’s constituency comprises 8 million people and we receive a large volume of correspondence on a wide variety of topics on a daily basis. As such, it can sometimes take longer than we would like to research and respond to enquiries.
Keith was very concerned to hear about the financial implications of the safety assessments required by the new Cosmetics Regulation, and the impact this is having on small businesses and sole traders.
The EU’s Regulation on Cosmetic Products (recast) EC 1223/2009 (repealing the previous Cosmetics Directive) was adopted in November 2009 and came into force in July 2013. The aim of the new Regulation was to harmonise cosmetics production and safety standards across the EU, as the previous Directive was open to interpretation during transposition into the national laws of each Member State – this meant that some European countries had more stringent safety laws than others. This is negated by the EU Regulation, which must be applied equally and entirely, at the same time, by each Member State.
Unfortunately, the legislative process for this Regulation took place between 2008 – 2009, before Keith became an MEP, and, as it has now come into force, there is very little that Keith can do to revisit these issues in Parliament. In European treaty, legislative changes can only be initiated by the Commission (except in rare cases where a majority of MEPs are united on an issue).
During the legislative process for the Cosmetics Regulation, small and medium businesses were consulted and provided opinion papers on the proposed changes. Many aspects of the Regulation were designed to improve the cost and ease of registration to small and medium enterprises. The Commission consulted the UEAPME (the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized enterprises), which welcomed the new standardised approach. The UEAPME warned the Commission of the potential cost of the more thorough safety assessments, but also highlighted the benefits of the new electronic notification procedure. Their position paper stated:
“UEAPME considers the centralization of the notification as an undeniable step forward, which will effectively reduce a large portion of administrative costs.”
The effects of the stricter safety assessments on small businesses was brought up by the Austrian MEP, Franz Obermayr, in a Written Question to the Commission earlier this year (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-011579&language=EN). As you can see from the response by Mr Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, small enterprises cannot be excluded from the safety assessment requirements for reasons of public health and consumer safety.
Keith and the Greens in the European Parliament consider consumer safety to be paramount. The Greens’ principle is ‘no data, no market’; as I am sure you would agree, consumers must be protected from potentially damaging ingredients and products. Mandatory safety assessments applied across the board will help to combat dangerous products being manufactured and marketed in the UK. Caroline Lucas, Keith’s predecessor, campaigned at the time to include strict safety tests for nanomaterials (present in many cosmetic products) in the Regulation, marking a first in consumer policy at the time. You can read about the Greens’ campaign here: http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2009/03/24/legislation-on-cosmetics-set-to-get-tougher-as-greens-secure-safeguards-against-nanomaterials/
That being said, Keith is sympathetic to the financial burden being placed on micro and small enterprises, as independent quality and safety assessors are not regulated by the EU legislation in terms of the fees they can charge for their services. As I mentioned above, there is little that Keith can do now that the Regulation is no longer within its legislative process through Parliament, however, please be assured that Keith would be happy take whatever opportunity he can to raise these concerns should the legislation be reviewed.
I have also forwarded your email to the Green group advisors on consumer protection to see if they have any further ideas or comments. If so, I will of course send these on to you.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to Keith on this important issue and please do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any further questions.
For more information about Keith’s work as an MEP, please see his website at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/