Stanbrook attacks EC as legal assault on ad curbs falters

EC lawyers were this week under fire from ad industry leaders as legal action against France’s ban on alcohol advertising became bogged down by delay.

EC lawyers were this week under fire from ad industry leaders as

legal action against France’s ban on alcohol advertising became bogged

down by delay.



No decision was taken on whether to prosecute over the Loi Evin or

Greece’s curbs on TV toy advertising when the European Commission met on

Thursday last week.



The commission says it will stay its hand over the toy ad ban until the

results of a Europe-wide survey into the effects of advertising to

children are known.



The only good news for industry lobbyists is that the commission will

proceed against Germany’s draconian sales promotion laws by backing a

case being brought against the German government by Polygram.



’It’s one small step forward but two huge steps backward,’ Lionel

Stanbrook, the deputy director of Britain’s Advertising Association,

said. ’The EU legal service has lost almost all its credibility. You

have to assume from what’s happened that it has a hidden agenda.’



Jacques Santer, the EC president, and Padraig Flynn, the health

commissioner, are among the staunchest supporters of the Loi Evin. They

have a surprise ally in Karel Van Miert, the commissioner for

competition. But their argument that the ban is an effective health

measure is questioned by industry lobbyists. They claim that its

implementation in 1991 has led to an increase in teenage drunkenness

caused by high sales of unadvertised, cheap, high strength own-label

beers.



Meanwhile, Mario Monti, the internal market commissioner, is said to

have come under pressure from Santer to drop action against Greece, a

move described by Stanbrook as ’mystifying’.



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