Industry asks Blair to intervene over EU e-commerce plans

Industry leaders are calling on Tony Blair to step in to stop advertisers becoming unwitting victims of local laws as they extend internet campaigns into Europe.

The appeal is in response to concerns that UK-based companies will be at risk of having their e-commerce activities declared illegal in other European Union states because of the way ministers plan to incorporate the EU's e-commerce directive into UK law.

They are said to have strayed from plans to incorporate "country of origin

controls, under which UK-based companies need only comply with UK laws for their activities to be legal in any of the other 14 EU member states.

Instead, the government proposals suggest local laws may be allowed to prevail when advertisers use the internet in Europe. Now, the Advertising Association is urging the Prime Minister's policy advisers to think again.

Andrew Brown, the AA's director-general, said: "The transposition of the 'country of origin' principle into UK law is of vital importance to the advertising industry of this country."

The AA has warned that unless the principle is enshrined in UK law, British companies will be put at a serious competitive disadvantage against rivals in other EU countries.