Sign in

A New Tax for Cosmetics in France

Claire Thévenin

It was in the air since 2009 … The “Milon tax”—named for the senator who proposed it—was finally voted in late December 2011, as part of the 2012 Social Security Finance Law. It requires cosmetic companies to pay 0.1% of their annual turnover. The tax was conceived in order to fund the cosmétovigilance program of the AFSSAPS (the French agency for sanitary safety of health products) and mimics the existing pharmacovigilance system. It is estimated that it should bring in approximately €10 million. Applicable since March 31, the tax is payable to the Finance Ministry, which will transfer it to the AFSSAPS.

For industry players, it is foreseen that the tax will generate much more money than the actual cost of cosmétovigilance—even taking into account that only “companies who first [launch] products on the market” will have to pay it. Industry association Cosmed estimates that the market (considering all industry players) is worth €6.5 billion. What the Finance Ministry does with the surplus remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, FEBEA (The Federation of Beauty Companies) calls the tax unconstitutional, unjustified and overestimated.

Cosmed Launches “Cosmetic Days”

The SMEs association will launch a new congress, “Cosmetic Days,” scheduled for every other year. The first edition will be held Dec. 6–7, 2012, in Marseille (where Cosmed is based), and the theme will be “sun.”

Different aspects of the beauty industry will be discussed (innovation, markets, regulation, formulation, etc.) along with related issues such as the health effects of sun, light therapy, food supplements and textiles.

More than 20 featured speakers are scheduled, from both academia (notably, Brian Diffey from Newcastle University and Steven A. Brown from Zurich University) and the industry (Marie Béjot from Oenobiol and Dominique Moyal from L’Oréal, for example). In addition to the conferences, stands will allow companies to display their new products, and b-to-b meetings will be set up. Organizers hope to attract 250 participants.

Cosmed (founded in 2000) now has 620 members, representing 18,000 jobs and sales of €3.8 billion.

Brussels Publishes “Clarification” on Organic and Natural Standards

As the natural and organic cosmetics sector continues to grow, the European Commission issued a clarification, noting that there is no European harmonized standard. In other words, private certification bodies should not advertise their services as such, since, per the European Commission decision, this contributes to misleading information for the consumer and disruption of the internal market. Though specific certification bodies have not been named, the COSMOS and NaTrue standards/certifications are the two that will certainly be impacted in Europe.

When asked why such a late clarification was made, and with COSMOS and NaTrue standards/certifications far from recent news, a spokesperson for the EC told GCI, “The commission received several questions related to the existing standards. These questions drew our attention to the fact that some private standards were presented as ‘the’ European standard. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, we considered this [clarification] necessary.”

At present, in the absence of a specific regulatory framework for natural and organic cosmetics, the industry must wait for the output of two working groups: the European Commission/DG SANCO (Health and Consumers) regarding claims and that of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) on a standard for natural and organic cosmetics.

Cosmetics Europe Exhibition at the European Parliament

Colipa (The European Cosmetics Association) changed its name in January 2012, to Cosmetics Europe—The Personal Care Association for more clarity (in its mission and role in Europe.) The organization also celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012, and marked the achievement during an exhibition in May at the European Parliament, Brussels, with the theme “Science, Beauty and Care—Looking to Future Generations. Sustainability in the Cosmetics Industry.” Illustrated examples of how the cosmetics industry contributes to sustainability in the economic, social and environmental spheres were presented.

Also, representatives from the “Look Good … Feel Better” program presented their initiatives in regards to cancer patients.

Claire Thévenin is a freelance journalist based in Paris. She has covered the beauty industry since 2005, specializing in European Union regulations.