WASHINGTON — Standards and regulations covering cosmetics and chemicals — long a source of friction between the U.S. and the European Union — came to the fore during the second round of negotiations for a Trans-Atlantic trade deal.
The talks wrapped up today in Brussels, and EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero during a Webcast press conference said talks had just begun to touch on cosmetics and chemicals.
The U.S. and EU hope to significantly boost trade with a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal that could have implications for U.S. imports and exports of apparel, textiles, cosmetics, footwear and accessories.
Cosmetics and chemical regulations and standards differ significantly between the EU and the U.S., which Garcia Bercero acknowledged. In March, the EU implemented a ban on the import and sale of cosmetics and ingredients that were tested on animals. The ban prohibits companies that sell cosmetics in the EU from testing them on animals anywhere in the world. Negotiators said they are trying to find ways to cut down on unnecessary and duplicative regulations and standards covering cosmetics and chemicals, and also reduce costs for companies.
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That was followed by stricter EU legislation taking effect this summer, implementing more stringent cosmetics safety and detailed labeling requirements.
“[On] cosmetics, we had a good initial discussion,” Garcia Bercero said. “We compared regulations in the EU and regulations in the U.S. and again [addressed] some practical questions [related to the fact that] certain ingredients which are prohibited in the European Union are not prohibited in the United States.
“Is it possible to look into this again and see whether there is some greater convergence?” Garcia Bercero asked rhetorically. “Regulators on both sides are analyzing to see if it is feasible, if it is something that can be done without compromising each side’s level of protection.”
Negotiators also focused on chemical standards and regulations, another area where the two sides are far apart. The EU implemented sweeping and stringent chemicals legislation in 2007, known as the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals law, or REACH, which requires that product suppliers compile safety data specific to each of its chemicals’ intended applications. Among its provisions, the law requires companies that use pigments in lipstick to provide safety data for its use.
Garcia Bercero said the EU and U.S. chemical laws provide such “different levels of protection” that negotiators are not trying to lessen or increase regulations on either side.
The two sides will hold the third round of negotiations in Washington the week of Dec. 16.