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
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’.