The European Commission has made changes to the latest version of its position on cosmetics in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the United States.
In March, the executive published a new version of its position paper on cosmetics as part of the TTIP talks.
In contrast to the earlier version published in May last year, the paper no longer contains a reference to “mutual recognition” of banned and authorised substances in cosmetics.
Instead, the Commission is now calling for a “collaboration in scientific safety assessment methods.”
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) welcomed the change in a blog post, writing that allowing mutual recognition of systems would mean that the EU would accept banned chemicals in cosmetics, which would significantly risk lowering safety standards in the EU. More than 1,300 substances are prohibited in cosmetics in the EU, while only 11 are in the US, the BEUC noted.
“Therefore, any integration of the mutual recognition principle in negotiations on cosmetics was unanimously highlighted by public interest organisations as a major threat to the EU’s cosmetic safety regulatory framework. Acknowledging and acting on this concern in the new text is a welcome step by the Commission,” the BEUC wrote.
However, there are many battles still to be fought in order to protect consumer interests under TTIP, BEUC’s Director General, Monique Goyens, told EurActiv. Nevertheless, the European Commission’s move to withdraw mutual recognition of prohibited cosmetic substances from the position paper on cosmetics is a step in the right direction.
“Many critics have claimed transparency would hurt the TTIP negotiations. This development is proof that the opposite is true,” the BEUC’s Director General Monique Goyens told EurActiv.
“Thanks to access to documents and engagement with civil society, negotiators have the chance to improve what is on the table. Increased transparency in the TTIP negotiations is a win-win situation for all,” Goyens said.
EurActiv requested a comment from Cosmetics Europe, but industry representatives declined.
Last year, Cosmetics Europe’s former director general, Bertil Heerink, told EurActiv that the European and American cosmetics industries had developed a joint proposal on TTIP, calling for mutual recognition of tests, protocols and how risk assessment is conducted.
In June 2013, the European Union's heads of state and heads of government gave the Commission the responsibility for the free-trade negotiations between the EU and the United States.
The European Commission is seeking agreement on a number of issues, including the protection of investments and the proposed mechanism of dispute settlement between investors and states.
Negotiations between the United States and the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership began in July 2013. The guidelines stated that the EU should seek to include provisions on investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the proposed agreement.
The EU executive consulted the public on its possible approach to investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP, asking whether the EU’s proposed approach for TTIP achieves the right balance between protecting investors and safeguarding the EU's right and ability to regulate in the public interest.
This consultation was extended over the summer on account of the high interest and the Commission intends to publish a report in early 2015.
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