About IDEA

IDEA is a long-term, multi-stakeholder, expert-led program that seeks to advance consumer protection by taking a responsible approach to addressing fragrance allergens. It brings together a range of stakeholders working in a transparent and open way.

  1. Multi-stakeholder

    A long-term, multi-stakeholder, expert-led initiative

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  2. Transparent

    A collaborative, transparent initiative with effective governance

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  3. Responsible

    A responsible, proactive approach to addressing fragrance allergens

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IDEA brings together a wide range of experts from the fragrance industry, downstream users, the EU institutions and academia, as well as leading scientists in fields such as dermatology, toxicology, and alternatives to animal testing.

This is the model that should inspire and be followed by all industry sectors to manage their key issues. It is clear for me that IDEA is instrumental in building trust with regulators and policymakers.

Julie Girling MEP, speaking at the IDEA Annual Review in February 2019

Sharing knowledge and building consensus

The fragrance industry and the European Commission are key players in IDEA – but this initiative goes far wider and deeper.

Leading international scientists – experts in fields such as dermatology, toxicology, or alternatives to animal testing – come together to share knowledge, debate and reach consensus on improving existing methodologies.

The industry and experts come together to broaden perspectives and share positions. This collaborative effort results in a stronger method to manage allergens as well as lasting relationships that may serve as a model for other fragrance-associated topics relating to the improvement of consumer safety.

Workshops and Annual Review

IDEA holds a series of two- to three-day workshops, each focusing on a specific Task of the Work Plan (the order in which the Tasks are addressed being jointly defined by IFRA and the European Commission).

In addition to regular workshops, Annual Reviews are organized by the European Commission to monitor progress, get input from all stakeholders and update the program and priorities where needed.

> Read more about IDEA Workshops and the Annual Review


Transparency and good governance are key principles of IDEA. We publish documents and extensive summaries from our workshops, and all activities are controlled by a Supervisory Group with no vested interests in industry activities.

Transparency and good governance

Transparency and good governance are key principles of IDEA: we have worked to ensure that we avoid conflicts of interest and bias, and we publish documents and extensive summaries from our workshops.

Supervisory Group

IDEA's work is overseen by a Supervisory Group of four to seven members with no vested interests in industry activities. Potential new members can put themselves forward for a position on the Supervisory Group; nominations are then evaluated by the Supervisory Group and subject to agreement by the European Commission.

> See the members of the Supervisory Group

The Supervisory Group scrutinizes all aspects of IDEA and its work. It guarantees the neutrality of scientific debates and sets the procedure for selecting experts. The Supervisory Group also reviews and approves the draft agenda of all IDEA workshops.

For each workshop, the Supervisory Group nominates a Rapporteur from among its members. This Rapporteur attends the workshop and writes a report that is reviewed by the Supervisory Group, which then draws conclusions and sets recommendations in view of improving the overall process.

Access to documents

Every workshop leads to the preparation and the publication of the following documents:

> Read more about the different documents prepared by IDEA

> Visit our Document Library

Working method

The Management Team and Supervisory Group established a modus operandi, or working method, that lays down all the rules that have to be followed during workshops. This document specifies which types of costs related to the workshop participation are to be reimbursed, and to whom.


The fragrance industry took the initiative to address recommendations by regulators, recognizing the need for partnership and for the active involvement of stakeholders.

Background to IDEA

In December 2011, the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) published a draft Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products (SCCS/1459/11).

The Committee’s recommendations were clear: there was both a knowledge gap and a communications gap between the industry on one side, and stakeholders and the public on the other. These gaps needed to be bridged – and the fragrance industry decided that it needed to take the initiative.

Advisory group

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA), as the representative body of the global fragrance industry, decided on a responsible and proactive approach. IFRA set up an advisory group of industry scientists to work on methods to characterize, assess and diagnose fragrance allergens, improve risk assessment, and address the knowledge and communications gaps.

At their second meeting, this group, known as the ‘Nyon II’ group, developed a Work Plan to tackle these issues, with a strategic goal in mind: by offering consumers adequate protection, the industry can ensure the continued safe use and enjoyment of fragranced products and the long-term sustainability of its business.


The fragrance industry recognized the need for partnership and for the active involvement of stakeholders to make this initiative a success.

IFRA submitted the Work Plan for evaluation by the risk assessment unit of the European Commission’s health and consumer protection department (known at the time as DG Sanco).

On 14 March 2013, after a thorough review process involving IFRA and the Commission, the initiative was fully endorsed by Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for Health.

The final Work Plan, consisting of four Tasks, moved into its implementation phase – and IDEA was born.