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Is UK/EU Divergence Becoming a Reality?

When the UK was preparing to leave the EU there was much talk about the practicalities of how the relationship would impact UK product safety laws and, in particular, whether this could lead to divergence between the two legal frameworks. Of course, with divergence comes challenges for businesses operating in both territories.

Already in 2021 we’ve seen amendments to EU law. For us at Bloom this has taken the form of changes to food legislation and also within the Annexes of the Cosmetics Regulation. Meanwhile the legislation applicable to Great Britain (Northern Ireland follows EU Rules) has remained largely static and a reflection of the rules at the time that the UK left the EU on 31 December 2020. Arguably, this means we have already diverged, in some respects, from the EU. But what about the future?

During 2021, the UK Office for Product Safety and Standards carried out a call for evidence on a product safety review in the UK but, at the time of writing, this has not yet progressed to any specific proposals for change. Also, the EU, under the chemicals strategy for sustainability, is proposing a refit exercise of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and has already consulted on an inception impact assessment. Issues currently under discussion include:

  • Extending the scope of provisions for carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances to cover further hazard classifications.

  • Implementing a ‘one substance, one assessment’ approach across EU legislation so that ECHA becomes responsible for the safety evaluation of substances for use in cosmetics (currently under the remit of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)).

  • The definition of a nanomaterial to be used for cosmetics.

  • Ways in which information can be made available to the end user, for example, using digital technology and/or simplified pack labels.

For now, the differences we see between GB and the EU are primarily ones of ingredient restrictions, including:

  • For EU food – a ban of E 171 (titanium dioxide) as a food additive (pending publication)

  • For EU cosmetics - the addition of dihydroxyacetone to Annex III and a ban for Lilial

But in the future could compliance in the two regions look completely different? 2022 could bring interesting news. Perhaps the UK will divulge its intentions and processes at least regarding updates to the current frameworks if not something more revolutionary whilst the EU is expected to come forth with more concrete proposals before 2022 closes.

Written by Amanda Isom

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