Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

European Union Considers Banning Animal Testing for Cosmetics

On 7 November 2002, representatives of the European Parliament and the Council, which is comprised of representatives from the European Union's (EU's) 15 member governments, agreed to modify Directive 76/768/EEC (ref. 1) by introducing a ban on animal testing for cosmetic products2. This ban still needs to be approved by the full European Parliament and member nations.

The purpose of this new directive is to protect and improve the welfare of animals used for experimental purposes by promoting the development and use of scientifically valid methods of alternative testing. The directive has four main objectives:

  • “[T]o prohibit in the Community the testing of cosmetic products on animals;

  • “[T]o prohibit in the Community the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals and the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals or containing ingredients tested on animals as soon as alternative testing methods have been validated by the Commission, with due regard to validation within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);

  • “[T]o align the provisions of Directive 76/768/EEC with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO); and

  • “[T]o improve consumer information in relation to the use of cosmetic products.”

The European Parliament and Council agreed to implement the marketing and testing bans in 2009, to give cosmetic companies time to develop non-animal tests.

The EU had previously rejected a June 2002 proposal to ban testing of cosmetic products on animals, fearing that it would disadvantage European exporters and violate world trade rules. If implemented, this new ban would affect the 8,000 current cosmetic ingredients as well as any new ingredients used in the EU's $44-billion-a-year cosmetic industry. Only three EU countries currently ban animal testing of cosmetic ingredients: Britain, Austria, and The Netherlands3.


  1. 1

    Council Directive of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (86/609/EEC). /scientific/86-609-eec_en.pdf.

  2. 2

    Parliament–Council Conciliation Committee. Agreement on the banning of animal testing for cosmetics. (7 November 2002). 73127.pdf.

  3. 3

    Ames, Paul . EU may ban animal tests by 2009. Associated Press (7 November 2002).

  4. 4

    HR 5005. Homeland Security Act of 2002.

  5. 5

    Veneman, A.M. USDA Statement by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman regarding the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. USDA Release No. 0479.02. (19 November 2002). 2002/11/0479.htm

  6. 6

    Florida Department of State—Election Results.

  7. 7

    Reject 'pig' amendment 10. Palm Beach Post (FL) (25 October 2002). _news_021025_reject_pig_amendment10.html.

  8. 8

    Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. Final Rule. Schedules of controlled substances: rescheduling of buprenorphine from schedule V to schedule III. Federal Register 67, 62354–62370 (7 October 2002).

Download references


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shalev, M. European Union Considers Banning Animal Testing for Cosmetics. Lab Anim 32, 19 (2003).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing