European make-up and cosmetics regulations could drastically change soon

European cosmetics market faces future obstacles



Cosmetics is a broad term for products which a person utilises in the upkeep of their appearance, such as; foundation, toothpaste, suntan lotion, lip balm, mouthwash or anti-dandruff shampoo. The European cosmetic market currently has 1,378 chemical substance banned from being used in cosmetics in stark contrast to the 11 chemical substance banned in the US. Currently the negotiations of multiple bilateral free trade agreements such as; TTIP and CETA look set to impact the cosmetic industry.

The EU’s REACH directive was halted in an act of good faith by the European Union (EU) in negotiation these free trade deals. In Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US the opposite is true any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. The precautionary principle a lifeline and testament to Europe’s tougher regulations is a vital piece of legislation which inhibits potentially toxic substances.

On May 13th 2016 the EU council of ministers have plan to vote on CETA. If 16 out of the 28 foreign affairs ministers of the EU, representing 65% of the EU population vote yes for CETA at the meeting, then CETA will apply fully in international law for a minimum of three years.

The Danish consumer rights organisation Forbrugerrådet Tænk wants to keep cosmetics regulation out of the Transatlantic free trade negotiations, saying it is worried that the EU will “sell out” its strict standards.”Forbrugerrådet Tænk is not against free-trade agreements. But with this petition, we demand that the European Commission’s negotiators guarantee in writing that the cosmetics regulation is kept out of the negotiations”.


These neoliberal trade agreements offer  harmonisation through regulatory cooperation , while also offering multinational companies extra privileges through Investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) and Investment court system (ICS). The whole purpose of CETA is to reduce regulation on business. The idea is that will make it easier to export. But it will do far more than that. Through the pleasant sounding “regulatory cooperation”, standards would be reduced across the board on the basis that they are “obstacles to trade”. Some critics have claimed that these negotiations offer a race to the bottom in areas such as food safety, workers’ rights and environmental regulation.

This agreement will potentially allow US companies who have a subsidiary in Canada to exploit aspects of this deal if TTIP cannot be signed.  CETA’s investor rights could unleash a corporate litigation boom against Canada, the EU and its member states – including through the Canadian subsidiaries of US multinational corporations.Some 39.7 percent of all large enterprises in Canada are foreign owned. Currently, 21 out of 28 EU member states representing well over 95 percent of the EU economy do not have investor-state arbitration provisions with Canada. Ireland is one of the few places in Europe where ISDS has never been signed into law.

CETA offers foreign corporations the opportunity to bypass Irish and EU courts to sue government in a private arbitration tribunal known as ISDS. Its critics have stated that ISDS could dangerously thwart government efforts to protect citizens and the environment, and that states could be forced to pay billions of dollars in compensation to investors for profits “lost” due to regulation in the public interest. CETA constrains governments in a broad range of areas, including intellectual property, public procurement, public and financial services, and food sovereignty.


Upon consultation with the European public in 2014 regarding the ISDS courts; a vast majority of the public highlighted their issues with the mechanism.

  • of the 149, 399 responses, 97% of participants have voiced either a general rejection of TTIP or opposition to ISDS in TTIP.

The Commission boasted that the deal will, “remove 99 per cent of customs duties, leading to tariff savings for EU exporters of around €470m million a year for industrial goods.”  Reform to the ISDS has come in the form of the tribunal members being appointed by the company and the state involved in any dispute, they will now be appointed in advance and be subject to a code of conduct. In addition, an appeal system will be introduced.

Although German judges have voiced their dismay over the proposed ICS.

ECR group shadow rapporteur David Campbell Bannerman was equally pleased, urging both member states and MEP colleagues to, “push ahead with this trade agreement without any further delay. Each day wasted slows down economic growth in both the EU and Canada.”

“It was a disgrace that two years were wasted because the EU sought to dictate human rights conditions to Canada, a huge insult. The EU should stick to trade, not politics, and we must make up for lost time,” he added.

Ska Keller, Greens/EFA group Vice-Chair, agreed; “The final text maintains the undemocratic investor-state arbitration tribunals for foreign investors, which are inaccessible for citizens and national companies. The Commission has proposed only procedural changes, for example, in the selection of judges. However, unilateral private actions against democratic decisions will still be possible, which jeopardises core democratic values. ”

“These proposals set up a parallel legal system; domestic companies will have to go to ordinary courts whilst foreign investors will go via a separate court. This is unfair and makes no sense given that the EU and Canadian judicial systems already function adequately. Rejecting private arbitration courts must mean rejecting CETA.”

A similar agreement to TTIP and CETA is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico, which caused the loss of one million US jobs over 12 years, instead of the hundreds of thousands of extra that were promised.Under NAFTA, Canada has been sued 35 times, has lost or settled six claims, and has paid damages to foreign investors totaling over C$171.5 million.

Many civil society organisations and NGO’s have been involved in actively trying to raise awareness of multiple issues included in these agreements, which are a cause for concern. If you would like to do your part you can sign the petition here. If you would like to find out more about these trade deals follow the links below or come to a workshop for action against TTIP and CETA in Wigwam on April 5th between 6PM and 9PM.

Sources – Additional Information

Click to access trading-away-democracy.pdf

Click to access tradoc_152982.pdf

Click to access trading-away-democracy.pdf



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