Tonio Borg at the European Parliament

Tonio Borg at the European Parliament

Questioned by members of the European Parliament on 13 November, the Maltese candidate gave its position on issues that will fall under its jurisdiction. The procedure is not a formality, in 2004 and 2010 MEPs have already obtained the withdrawal of candidates commissioners who failed to give appropriate answers to some of their questions.

Cosmetics Europe concerned

Cosmetics Europe, the trade association representing the cosmetics industry in Europe, said that prospective Commissioner Tonio Borg’s commitment to “conclude the introduction of the March 2013 ban without addressing the scientific reality or consumer needs is an issue of great concern.

Our industry commitment to ending animal testing is solid and widely recognised, and we continue to invest heavily into finding viable alternatives. The cosmetics industry has been the engine of progress in this area. Mr. Borg’s comments therefore do not reflect the complexity or the reality of the issue, and will not further the cause of global animal welfare; rather it will undermine it,” commented Fabio Franchina, the President of Cosmetics Europe.

Testing finished cosmetic products on animals has been prohibited in the European Union (EU) since 2004, as with animal testing of ingredients since 2009. In addition to these prohibitions, after March 2009 there has been a marketing ban on selling cosmetic products within the EU containing ingredients that have been tested on animals after this date, irrespective of the place of testing. However, some very complex tests [1] remain exempted from these various prohibitions until a general marketing ban comes into force in March 2013.

Several European scientific committees have expressed doubts about the possibility to combine this final ban with the goal to reach the highest level of safety for consummers.

Satisfaction of animal advocacy groups

On the contrary, animal advocacy groups have welcomed Mr Borg’s position.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) said they agree with Tonio Borg’s comments that industry would not find alternative means of testing if the marketing ban is not implemented as “necessity is the mother of invention.

Political Issues

As it happens quite often on this issue, it has taken a political turn with several MEPs and political groups who included the respect of the March 2013 deadline as a condition of their vote in favour of Tonio Borg.

The Conference of Presidents of the EU Parliament has set the date for the vote on Tonio Borg’s nomination for next Wednesday, 21st of November 2012.