Category Archives: Group 4

EU animal-tested cosmetic ban has import loopholes

By Amanda Dafniotis and Chris O’Gorman.

The European Union’s market ban on animal-tested cosmetics may have come into effect last Monday, but many logistical questions remain regarding the importation of cosmetics from other countries, particularly China.

The two-decade-long effort to ban all animal testing in the EU reached its apparent end with the March 11 market ban, which will ensure no animal-tested ingredients are used in cosmetics sold in the EU.

There are concerns, however, that cosmetics imported into the EU may have been tested on animals in their country of origin and the newest ban may not completely guarantee the safety of the product.

The China Problem

China mandates all cosmetics be tested on animals before they are deemed safe for public use. The country also lobbied against the market ban, as well as previous bans under the Cosmetics Directive, which outlines rules on the composition, labeling and packaging of cosmetic products.

When asked how the market ban will affect trade relations between China and the EU, officials from China’s Belgian economic and commercial office did not respond for requests for comment.

Frédérick Warzee, a cosmetic scientist and spokesperson for DETIC, the Belgian cosmetics association, said he expects China will have to follow suit with the market ban and not test their cosmetics on animals if they want access to the European market.

“Marketing of Chinese products will not be allowed if testing on animals was conducted to comply with EU cosmetics legislation requirements,” he said.

However, this may not be the case.

Sabine Lecrenier, the head of cosmetics and medical devices unit at the health and consumers directorate general, a branch of the European Commission, said there may be some difficulties implementing the market ban.

“We cannot control what happens in other countries and cannot impose our regulatory standards on others,” she said. “A product from China can be tested on animals but once in the EU, we will make sure it passes a safety test using alternative methods before placing it on the EU market.”

This means, while countries outside the EU will be able to test their cosmetic products on animals, they will not be able to sell them on the European market until the safety of the product is re-tested using alternative testing methods.

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A timeline of the Cosmetics Directive as it applies to animal testing bans for cosmetic uses. Infographic courtesy of the European Commission (click to enlarge)

Safety will not be compromised

These safety tests will likely be costly and it is not clear who will pay for them: the EU or the cosmetics companies.

The Commission will know if the prospective cosmetics contain animal-tested ingredients as all companies wishing to sell cosmetics on the European market will have to also submit a report documenting the testing methods used to ensure the safety of the product.

“We will not compromise on safety, so the ban means only that consumers in the EU will not benefit from future innovations available elsewhere in the world,” Warzee said. “The EU market will become less innovative and the EU would lose its leadership on safety assessment regulatory standards.”

The EU as a global example

As the market ban comes into full effect, it will be up to individual member states, not the European Commission, to ensure no animal-tested cosmetics end up on their shelves.

Some member states lack the sufficient resources and knowledge to implement the ban, according to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), an animal welfare group that lobbied in favour of the market ban.

The group said, while they hope the market ban is effective, if there is difficulty implementing it, other countries may not respect the ban as reason enough to change their domestic animal testing laws.

“We estimate that over 80% of the world still allows animal testing for cosmetics and some countries, notably China, require imported products to be tested on animals before they reach the market,” Sarah Kite, a press officer for BUAV said in an email. “In a global market it is important that all countries ban the practice to avoid animal testing simply being moved around the world to those countries with no effective laws.”

The Euro Group for Animals, a collective of 40 animal welfare organizations including BUAV, echoed the concern with China’s mandated animal testing laws.

“China is our big concern because the market in China is huge and we hope that by implementing this ban and by working with our international partners, we can gradually increase the number of countries that don’t accept animal testing in cosmetics,” said Martyn Griffiths, a press officer with the Euro Group for Animals. “We hope that will put pressure on the Chinese government to actaccordingly.”

“I don’t really care what China does.”

Dan Jørgensen, a Danish member of the European Parliament and president of the intergroup on animal welfare said, while China will not allow non-animal-tested cosmetics onto its shelves, this should not be a reason to rethink the ban.

“I don’t really care what China does,” he said. “Why don’t we allow child labour in Europe? They use it in India […] But we don’t want child labour in Europe, that’s why we ban it. The same goes for animal testing.”

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Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen (centre) said China’s mandatory animal-testing laws should be no reason for the EU to reconsider the March 11 market ban. Photo by Chris O’Gorman

Jørgensen also said he does not believe countries like China are significant markets for European cosmetics companies, while other industry experts say the Chinese market is integral for global cosmetics corporations.

“The Chinese need to prove that the products they want to sell to us, which I bet you is a lot larger quantity than what we want to sell to them, cannot use animal testing so they have to change, not us.”

Jumping on the ban-wagon

For fear of being left out of the European cosmetics market, some non-EU member states, such as Norway, have been forced to decide whether to follow the Cosmetics Directive in order to continue selling cosmetics in the EU.

In a statement released in April, 2011, the Norwegian consumer affairs sector said they would only accept the ban if consumer safety was upheld to the same standard as animal tests provided.

“The answer we have gotten from the experts is clearly in the negative. It will not be possible – neither by March 11, 2013 nor for many more years to come,” the statement said.

However, the Norwegian authorities recently reversed their decision.

“It is decided that the EU ban regarding animal testing and cosmetics will also come into effect March 11 in Norway. Thus we will have the same legislation on this issue as the EU,” Julie Tesdal Håland, an adviser and toxicologist with the Norwegian Safety Authority said in an email statement.

Testing 101

As of 2004, no cosmetics could be tested on animals in the EU under the Cosmetics Directive. By 2009, the directive included a ban on testing ingredients used in cosmetics on animals. The ban was upheld except in a few specific cases where the ingredients required testing for which no non-animal alternatives existed.

These exception tests were banned as of March 11. There are five tests in total consisting of: repeated dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity, skin sensitization, toxicokinetics, and carcinogenic testing.

As an example, repeated dose toxicity is a testing method wherein the animal is repeatedly fed or forced to inhale the ingredient or the ingredient in question is rubbed onto the animal’s shaved skin every day for 28 or 90 days, according to the BUAV. The animal is then killed to examine the effects of the ingredient.

These exception tests, however, will no longer be permitted with the implementation of the market ban.

The testing and marketing bans in the Cosmetics Directive apply even in cases where no alternative methods to animal testing are available, according to The European Commission’s official communication.

“This reflects a sector-specific political choice by the European Parliament and the Council,” the official Commission communication states.

Under previous EU chemical directives, some ingredients may still be tested on animals if their explicit purpose is not for cosmetic use.

“The data which is generated in other fields can be used to prove the safety of a cosmetic product,” Lecrenier said.

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Sabine Lecrenier, the head of cosmetics and medical devices unit at the health and consumers directorate general at a technical briefing on the market ban. Photo: Still shot from video, The European Commission

Saving animals, killing innovation

Warzee, spokesperson for DETIC, said the market ban will do little to aid animal welfare, and will instead just harm European cosmetics innovation.

While animal rights activists may be cheering, a grim economic reality may lie just beyond the horizon.

“These blunt bans ignore the scientific reality that basic science is not ready to provide the alternatives we need to answer all safety questions,” Warzee said. “The absence of alternatives to animal testing methods means that it will be difficult to develop new ingredients or new uses of existing ingredients specifically for the EU market.”

EU decisions are affecting fishermen employment


By Rasha Abou Dargham and Julen Hernandez

The European Union is currently discussing the reform of its fisheries policy. This reformation could mean lower employment rates for fishermen.

Member of Parliament and of ‘Europe of freedom and democracy group’, John Agnew says: “those claims that there is a fight for the fishermen’s livelihood have been leading nowhere, instead we need to say ‘look’ we have reached a bad point and we need to make drastic changes!”

To read more : http://reportingeuspring2013.mediajungle.dk/2013/03/18/eu-decisions-are-affecting-fishermen-employment/

Danish EU Influence under threat

 

By: James Fox and Leif Jeppesen.

The Danish Minister of European affairs, Nicolai Wammen, is concerned that fewer Danes are passing the admission test required to work in EU institutions and that Denmark will lose national influence in the EU system.

EU insiders, like Poul Skytte Christoffersen, career diplomat and current Danish ambassador to Belgium, believe that having civil servants in international institutions is advantageous, not because they will affect any decisions made, but because being represented means being involved.

“Its imperative to have civil servants that are Danish and have Danish values and culture,” he said. “We have created our society in a specific way, and we would like to see our values carried over into EU institutions especially in areas like environment, consumer protection, and climate change.”

Malene Chaucheprat, who passed the EU admission test, thinks that it is important to have sources that are located in key positions at the EU.

It is like having “a set of Danish eyes and ears,” she said.

Wammen’s response to the declining trend of Danish employees at the EU, is the launching of a task force to improve the Danish chances.

Click here to read more.

Danes In Decline

By: James Fox and Leif Jeppesen.

The Danish EU civil servant is a lone soldier
The Danish EU civil servant is a lone soldier, Scanpix.dk

Danes are experiencing 100% fail rates on the EU admission test as well as a lack of interest in working for the European Union. At the same time, a record number of Danes are retiring, leaving EU institutions void of Danish civil servants.

To address this issue, the Danish minister of European affairs, Nicolai Wammen, has launched a task force, headed by Former Danish EU Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel to curb the failure rate and ensure more Danes end up in EU institutions.

EPSO and the Concours

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is responsible for selecting candidates for potential employment at EU institutions. In order to be eligible to work in an EU institution, you need to pass a concours, a general test that can be specific to the applicant’s field of work, such as communication or finance.

The test used to be based on random knowledge about the EU, which required excessive memorization in preparation for the test, something that Danes are not accustomed to.

According to Antonio Gravili, spokesperson for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration at the European Commission, in 2010 there were changes made to the concours, something Scandinavian countries had been pushing for. The change eliminated the emphasis on trivia questions and focused more on the competences and skills the applicant has.

“At the end of the day you can learn (about the EU) on the job, but what matters is that you are capable of learning on the job and delivering results,” Gravili said.

The Danish flag is becoming less visible, Scanpix.dk

Danish Test Taking Troubles

Danish civil servants say the test needs to be changed, considering no Danish applicants passed the concours last year.

Malene Chaucheprat, who passed the concours, and who now works as a press consultant at the EU Parliament said the applicant failure rate might have something to do with the structure of the test.

“In my opinion, Danes are not used to sitting for examinations like the councours… we don’t have that many tests to begin with and we definitely don’t have tests in the same format as the concours,” she said.

Chaucheprat said she does not consider the test to be too intellectually challenging, but that the whole process is time consuming.

“It’s like a marathon, you really have to train for it,” she said.

Chaucheprat was of the 400 out of 12,000 applicants, who made it through the first round of the concours. She highlighted how French applicants are often more accustomed to taking such exams.

“They have more of a tradition of doing concours for jobs in their central administration,” she said.

Lone Grevy, head of international networks at DJØF, a union for academics that represents members working in the private and public sectors of Denmark, also had the same view.

“In France they take concours all the time, while none or very few institutions in Denmark require an admission test,” she said.

DJØF created a survey distributed amongst its members interested in taking the concours during a seminar they hosted together with the state department. Almost 70% of respondents showed a great interest in working in EU institutions, but only 24% ended up taking the test. The major reason listed for not taking the test was that they considered the application process too long and complicated.

The politicians at Christiansborg are worried about losing influence in the EU, Scanpix.dk

Problems at home

Getting Danes to pass the test is one problem for the task force. Another problem is getting people to apply in the first place, since a EU career offers some challenges.

Poul Skytte Christoffersen, Danish Ambassador to Belgium and long-time EU career diplomat, said he believes capable and talented Danes don’t want to waste their time applying to the EU.

“If you are a ‘high flyer’ in the Danish central administration, applying to the EU is just too slow a process compared to career advancement at home,” he said.

Chaucheprat agrees that some employees do lose out on career advancement but that it depends on the employee’s career path. She said it is a problem for people working in the central administration.

“They get forgotten down here (in Brussels),” she said. “That’s what I hear from national experts who come here temporarily.”

Another contributing factor is money. Ever since the 2004 reforms that saw EU administrators’ starting salary cut by 20%, it has been harder to attract the most talented candidates, especially from richer member states, according to Gravili.

Even though the salary is higher in Brussels, Danes will often be bringing a spouse that won’t have a job immediately, and will therefore need to cover two incomes, he said.

The Danish Central Administration needs to be better at integrating people with international experience, according to Ambassador Christoffersen. Few people in the Danish finance department have international experience, he said, whereas the exact opposite is the case in Italy, where most of the top-level employees have some international experience.

Pie chart of composition of nationalities in the EU commission
Pie chart of composition of nationalities in the EU commission, ec.europa.eu

The Italian Job

Italy serves as an example of a country with a high number of employees in EU institutions. Approximately 11% of the EU Commission employees are Italian, compared to Denmark’s 1.3% employment rate.

“Italians have a stronger incentive to move to Brussels than people from most countries,” said Battista Severgnini, Copenhagen Business School’s Italy expert.

There has always been a strong network effect between Belgium and Italy who are both founding members of the European Union, he said.

Specialist in EU institutions and professor at Aarhus University, Derek Beach, also pointed out the fact that Italy’s central administration doesn’t function as well as Denmark’s, which according to him, explains the reason why Italian academics leave their country more frequently.

Ambassador Christoffersen, who previously was the Danish ambassador to Italy, said the different family structures of Italy and Denmark could also contribute to the lack of Danes in Brussels.

“Italians have more of a tradition of stay-at-home-moms, which makes it easier for families to move to Brussels than it is for Danish families,” he said.

Force Tasking

Amid these challenges, the task force has a lot to take on in order to reverse the current declining trend. During their first meeting on March 4, the task force outlined a series of future goals to be reached to help increase Danish involvement in the EU.

One of these is to incorporate elements of concours-style testing into the Danish academic curriculum. This will help Danes get more accustomed to the EU admission test.

The task force also plans on pushing the importance of international experience onto the Danish labour market in order to help further career opportunities for Danish employees after they return from working for the EU.

Moreover, the task force will propose to focus on EU positions that do not require the concours admission test such as top positions, specialized agencies and temporary jobs.

If the task force does not succeed in increasing the Danish participation in the EU project, the consequences could be dire, according to Gravili.

“There will be a legitimacy crisis,” he said, “maintaining a balance among nationalities working at the EU is crucial because sooner or later when only a few member states will be represented in EU institutions, European laws will still be applied to Denmark without their involvement in formulating the laws.”

Click here to read more.

EU decisions are affecting fishermen employment

By Rasha Abou Dargham and Julen Hernandez.

The reform of the European Union’s fisheries policy currently being discussed raises concerns about the issue of the employment of fishermen. This reform, which is to be implemented by January 2014, sheds very little light on the employment factor and mainly focuses on the sustainability of fishing.

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The European Union’s common fisheries policy (CFP) is a policy that mainly deals with making EU fishing grounds a common resource by giving access to all member states and to help conserve fish stocks. However, this policy has endured a lot of criticism and 2013 is the year this reform will be discussed.

The European parliament and Council of ministers decide together on this reform. Due to this co-decision process, conflicting views have risen concerning the reform and its effectiveness.

Conflicting reactions to the CFP reform

Members of parliament seem to be split over whether the reform will be effective in fixing the “broken” fisheries policy as the commissioner, Maria Damanaki, once called it. On one hand, Member of Parliament and of ‘Europe of freedom and democracy group’, John Agnew voices his opinion. “I said this before and I will say it again, a co-decision is a no-decision!” he said.

On the other hand, some MEPs were concerned with issues other than the decision-making procedure such as Izaskun Barandica, member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, who said: “It is clear that we need a reform, however, this reform should take care of the fishermen and the sustainability of their jobs as well if we need to build a better future.”

Having considered this division, Greenpeace saw the reform as a process and therefore

could not decide right now on whether it can be effective. Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace fisheries policy director, said: “The CFP reform alone doesn’t necessarily tell you what will happen to employment”. She also added that the diverging positions of the parliament and council make it difficult to comment on a reform but it is very clear that we need this modification in order to secure the future of fishing.

Concerns have arisen on whether the position of the council is strong and significant enough to make a change regarding the fisheries’ future. Suggestions made by the parliament would benefit small-scale fisheries however; the member states are looking for policies that would work to the advantage of large, industrial fisheries. This means one thing; more job losses for the fishermen.

In addition, Richartz brought to attention particular concerns of Greenpeace in relation to the reform: “Ensuring stock recovery by 2015, reducing fishing capacity, and guaranteeing that overfishing is no longer caused by this excessive fishing capacity.”

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Members of the Greens European Free Alliance group hold a placard reading “Thanks!” After they voted Common Fisheries Policy reforms, during a plenary session at the European parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France on February 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG

The discard ban

 “One important point to discuss in this discard ban would be the direct influence it has on employment” said Barandica.

The ban of discards acts as the central element of the CFP reform. It bans the dumping of fish back into the sea and obliges fishermen to land all catches.

On February 6th, members of the European parliament voted to ban discards in the reform of the fishing policy. However, the issue of employment wasn’t mentioned in the ban regarding the future of fisheries.

Moreover, the co-decision method that is taking place has ignited many conflicts. The greatest resistance on the scale demanded by Members of Parliament came from France, Portugal, and Spain. Secondly, the council seems to be moving further away from the ambitious vote of the parliament to ban discards.

“Generally, some countries don’t want to limit the amount of fish the fishermen can catch. By accepting the discard ban, this would lead to fisheries being closed sooner than possible and they don’t want that,” said Richartz.

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What does this mean for the fishermen’s employment?

Fisheries’ employers are about 139,000 in comparison to aquaculture employers who are around 31,000 as stated by the Eurostat fisheries statistics. This shows that the way this CFP reform sees the future of fishing in aquaculture leaves the fate of the fisheries’ employees undecided.

“The fishermen know that in order to work in the fishing sector they need fish. So, they are aware of the importance of sustainability. However, regulations such as the discard ban poses a huge problem for them in regards to their working conditions,” says Barandica.

According to Richartz it all depends on whether the policies chosen benefit small scale fisheries which generally employ people on a long term basis and provide in principle more employment, or if the policies chosen continue, like governments are doing now, by benefitting large scale industrial businesses which provide much less employment.

“The main reason for job cuts are the low rates of fish in the sea and therefore the restrictions on the amount of fishing that can happen. Secondly, a shift from short scale fisheries to large-scale fishing businesses,” said Richartz.

Therefore, she believes that the potential changes of the CFP, if governments agree to recover fish stocks, will bring about higher quotas. This wouldn’t necessarily imply that there will be more fishermen but at least there would be a stable improvement in the amount of fish that can be taken and therefore amount of income that is available for fishermen.

MEP, John Agnew, blames the CFP that he believes hasn’t been effective for 30 years for causing member states to pay the price socially through unemployment. “Who is telling the fishermen that they need to look for new work? Instead we just give compensation schemes and give grants for better equipment. But how is this solving the actual problems such as over fishing?” he said, “Those fishermen should be allowed to leave this industry with dignity.”

Future of fishing

The two contrasting techniques of fishing which is the commercial fishing and aquaculture both have their supporters.

While commercial fishing deals mainly with harvesting of wild fish, aqua farming is concerned with cultivating fresh and saltwater populations under controlled environments. For better understanding, those two types of fishing can be contrasted in a way of hunting and gathering versus agriculture.

Agnew sees that it is not sensible to carry on catching wild fish and that some species of fish should be made illegal to catch. He admits to the problems concerned with fish farming nevertheless he believes it is important to resolve those problems and adapt to this method.

Richartz agreed about the point that if the EU continues with the practices it has been using for the past decades it will only lead to fewer jobs and lower sustainability. “Aquaculture is being promoted by governments and EU decision makers as a solution but Greenpeace does not consider it a solution to the overfishing problem,” she said.

This is because in terms of quality of the product, Greenpeace doesn’t believe that aquaculture fish is as good as wild caught fish. Therefore, it doesn’t replace the need to go fishing; it just generates a different type of fishery. “It is as sustainable as fisheries for human consumption not more sustainable.”

Companies hardly affected by EU cosmetic ban

By Amanda Dafniotis and Chris O’Gorman.

Europe’s 71 billion euro cosmetics industry was expected to be hit hardest by the European Union’s March 11 market ban on animal-tested cosmetics, but industry officials say it is consumers who will feel the brunt of the ban. 

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As the March 11 market ban on animal-tested cosmetics comes into effect, industry officials are saying the ban will be detrimental to consumers. Photo by Amanda Dafniotis

Frédérick Warzee, spokesperson for DETIC, the Belgian cosmetics association said, while the cosmetics industry supports finding alternatives to animal testing, its dependance on the practice is minimal.

Roughly a tenth of a percent of the animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the EU in 2008 were used for testing the safety of cosmetic ingredients he said, adding that the real impact on global animal welfare is very small.

The EU market ban exempts ingredients tested prior to March 11 and the EU will not be able to impose its regulatory standards on countries outside the EU, according to the European Commission.

“Concerning the cosmetics that you can find now on the market, the EU impact assessment highlights that between 2500 and 7500 products could be lost to consumers each year,” Warzee said.

Although DETIC is in favour of the ban, he said science is not ready to provide alternatives that would satisfy animal rights concerns.