Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy

Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy

Following a four-day visit to China, where he took part in several high-ranking meetings focusing among others, on product safety, medical devices, cross-border health threats and cooperation in the area of animal diseases control and anti-microbial resistance, EU Commissioner Tonio Borg said he also used his stay “as an opportunity to have an exchange with the Chinese authorities on the European ban on animal testing for cosmetics, which applies fully since 11 March 2013.

Indeed, testing cosmetics on live animals is still legally required in China and this strong divergence of legal requirements poses difficulties to the both Chinese and the European cosmetics industry.

I have encouraged the Chinese authorities to avoid unnecessary testing for cosmetics. There are many areas where animal testing can be replaced, for example, where the proof of safety can be based on ingredients. In this case, the respect of animals as well as the costs of animal tests speak in favour of not doing them,” said Commissioner Borg. “I see first signs of acceptance of alternative methods in China which I welcome very much,” he added.

OECD methods first

According to Mr. Borg, acceptance by Chinese authorities of OECD validated alternative methods “is clearly key to limit animal testing for cosmetics internationally.

I invited the Chinese authorities to work in closer cooperation with the EU Joint Research Centre in the area of alternative methods. Here we have already had first promising contacts. In the same vein, I have also welcomed China’s participation as an observer at the next meeting of the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation, aiming for acceptance of validated alternative methods at international level.

Borg’s statements were warmly welcomed by animal-rights organisations. “Commissioner Borg’s intervention is hugely significant, and paves the way for further progress towards ending cosmetics animal testing worldwide. China, unlike other markets, requires animal testing for cosmetics products already safely on sale in the EU and elsewhere, so the Commissioner’s statement is particularly welcome,” commented Humane Society International’s Be Cruelty-Free Campaigns Director, Troy Seidle.