Attempts to pull together Europe’s vast array of advertising laws look
set to spark a fight between the major EU governments.
Direct marketing and the vexed question of advertising to children are
likely to become battlegrounds as countries that have imposed strict
controls try to protect them from attack by Brussels.
The new outbreak of hostilities has been heralded by the publication of
the European Commission’s Green Paper, which pledges to put an end to
To achieve its aim, the Green Paper calls for the establishment of a
committee made up of ministerial representatives from each member state
which will rule on complaints by advertisers, agencies, the media and
consumer bodies against national legislation.
The move won immediate approval from Britain’s Advertising Association.
Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s director of political issues, said: ‘The
Green Paper forces member states in effect to take a lie-detector test
when they pretend that their ad bans protect the interests of
Much of the controversy the plan is likely to spark involves direct
marketing. The heavy regulations in Germany are in stark contrast to far
more liberal laws elsewhere.
At the same time there will be renewed attacks on the Greek ban on toy
advertising and Sweden’s veto of all advertising directed at children.
France’s restrictions on alcohol and tobacco advertising could also come
under scrutiny as could Britain’s broadcast sponsorship laws. But moves
by the Independent Television Commission towards further liberalisation
are expected to head-off confrontation.
William King, a partner at the law firm, MacFarlanes, and a member of
the AA’s Green Paper working party, said: ‘The Green Paper is a good
start but a lot of vested interests will respond vigorously against it.
It’s important we ensure they don’t make all the running.’