LONDON — A ban forbidding the import and sale of animal-tested cosmetics products and ingredients in the European Union is expected to go into effect on March 11, following a letter written by EU health commissioner Tonio Borg to animal-testing campaigners.

The ban, which many beauty companies had expected to be delayed or scrapped, will demand that anyone who wishes to sell new cosmetics products and ingredients in the EU must not test them on animals anywhere in the world. The ruling affects all cosmetics products, including toiletries like toothpaste and soap.

“I believe that the ban should enter into force in March 2013 as Parliament and Council have already decided. I am therefore not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban. This decision also means that we need to step up our efforts in the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods, as well as in the international recognition of these methods. I know that ECEAE [a European coalition of leading animal-protection organizations across Europe] has been a valuable and knowledgeable partner in these areas and I count on your future support,” wrote Borg in his letter.

“This great achievement in Europe is only the closure of one chapter. The future of beauty must be cruelty free,” said Paul McGreevy, international values director at The Body Shop, which has been campaigning, along with nonprofit organization Cruelty Free International, for more than 20 years to stop animal testing.

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Cruelty Free International Chief Executive Michelle Thew said: “This is truly a historic event and the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning. Now we will apply our determination and vision on a global stage to ensure that the rest of the world follows this lead.”

The path to this ruling has been a lengthy and often dramatic one. In 1991, the BUAV (founder of Cruelty Free International) established ECEAE, a European coalition of leading animal-protection organizations with the objective to end the use of animal testing for cosmetics. This set in motion a high-profile public and political campaign across Europe. In 1993, The Body Shop supported the campaign by enlisting the support of its consumers throughout Europe. Three years later, in 1996, The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick joined members of the ECEAE and members of Parliament in presenting a petition containing 4 million signatures to the European Commission. Cruelty Free International was established in 2012 as the first global organization dedicated to ending cosmetics animal-testing worldwide.

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