Agency: Fallon London
campaignlive.co.uk, Wednesday, 30 June 1999 12:00AM
- Selfish European governments are scuppering efforts to create a single market for advertisers across the continent, according to the EU's own senior advisors.
The idea is rapidly becoming a pipe dream because member states are refusing to give up their own laws in favour of Europe-wide regulations.
The gloomy verdict has been delivered by the EU's so-called Expert Group on commercial communications, in which government officials from all 15 EU states have been looking at cross-border communications problems.
The group began by examining the EU's widely-diverging laws on sales discounting and found that, with so many countries demanding exemptions, harmonising the rules would be almost impossible.
Now group members are asking what chance there is of achieving an advertising single market if agreement cannot be reached on common rules for one relatively small sector of it.
Lionel Stanbrook, the Advertising Association's deputy director general, was this week meeting Department of Trade and Industry officials to protest at the British Government's insistence that its power to control pharmaceutical and financial services advertising should be unaffected by any EU legislation.
Stanbrook said: "This is extremely bad news for commercial communications in general and UK advertisers in particular. The protectionists are calling the shots."
Advertising lobbyists in the UK are growing increasingly concerned about the threats to the self-regulatory system posed by the Financial Services Authority and the Medicines Control Agency, which has been attempting to assert greater authority over drugs promotion.
"We're very worried that the industry is losing the self-regulation battle," Stanbrook admitted. "And it's all because government officials don't understand that the single market is an opportunity, not a threat."
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk