Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
According to Council Directive 76/768/EEC (the Cosmetics Directive), all cosmetic products placed on the EU market must be safe. The definition of a cosmetic product in the directive does not distinguish between ‘natural’ or other cosmetic products. There are no legal requirements determining when a product may be considered as a ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ cosmetic. For example, there are no requirements fixing the minimum percentage of ‘natural’ ingredients that a product must have to qualify as a ‘natural’ product.
The Commission is aware that there are several private initiatives in the EU which establish criteria for the classsification and labelling of some cosmetics as ‘natural’. However, these rules are not part of the current EU cosmetics legislation.
Article 6 of the Cosmetics Directive requires that the list of ingredients is indicated on the packaging of the cosmetic product. However, it does not require the mention of the percentage of each ingredient on the label. As to claims, Article 6(3) of the directive requires Member States to take all measures necessary to ensure that, in the labelling, putting up for sale and advertising of cosmetic products, text, names, trade marks, pictures and figurative or other signs are not used to imply that these products have characteristics which they do not have.
Natural and organic denominations of the product refer to the product itself (ingredients used to produce it) and not to the whole life cycle of that procuct (for example packaging). It is true that there is a common misconception that natural is also environmentally friendly whereas it may not be the case at all. Very clear guidance to consumers and producers is offered by means of the EU Ecolabel. Such a label can be awarded for soaps, shampoos or hair conditioners if they comply with the ecological criteria set out in the annex to Commission Decision 2007/506/EC. In order to qualify for the EU Ecolabel, a product must meet the criteria which are developed in a Comitolgy procedure and published as a Commission Decision. These criteria are determined on a scientific basis and consider the whole life cycle of a product and the most significant environmental impacts.
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (Cosmetics Regulation), which replaces the Cosmetics Directive and applies as from 11 July 2013, also requires that a cosmetic product made available on the EU market must be safe as demonstrated by a cosmetic product safety report.
The new Cosmetics Regulation does not lay down specific criteria and requirements for ‘natural’ cosmetics; however, under Article 20, the Commission shall, in cooperation with Member States, establish an action plan regarding claims used and fix priorities for determining common criteria justifying the use of a claim with regard to cosmetics. The Commission has established a working group to look at claims currently used in respect of cosmetic products and to identify some claim categories for which the use of specific common criteria should apply. The category of ‘natural’ claims used on certain cosmetic products was identified as one of these categories. Common EU criteria for ‘natural’ claims should be finalised in the second half of 2011 and become operational as from 2012.
OJ C 191 E, 01/07/2011