The Conservative Party is to put moves to ban advertising to
children throughout Europe at the forefront of its campaign to oppose
further integration inside the EU.
William Hague has decided to highlight the plans by Sweden as a ’classic
example’ of unnecessary regulation coming from Brussels.
The Opposition’s strategy could force the Government to reveal its
position on Sweden’s proposal to bring in an EU-wide directive when it
takes on the EU’s rotating presidency in 2001.
Angela Browning, the Shadow trade and industry secretary, said: ’If
other countries want to ban the advertising of toys, sweets, salt or
sugar that is entirely up to them. But we don’t want to find Britain
drawn into such a directive. We need a light-touch approach to
regulation. We don’t want the EU to encroach on the usual rules on
advertising on grounds of political correctness.’
The Tories, who have accused Labour of adopting a ’nanny state’ attitude
since winning power, believe ministers may have some sympathy with
Sweden’s plans, because they expressed concern about the impact of
television programmes on children earlier this year.
Tory leaders are confident of mobilising public opinion against what
they call the ’nonsense’ of a ban on advertising children’s
They believe the Swedish proposal will help them counter Tony Blair’s
campaign to stress the benefits of EU membership in the hope of winning
eventual support for joining the single currency.
A recent report from MediaCom TMB found that ITV could lose up to pounds
10 million in ad revenue a year if Sweden’s bid for a ban on children’s
advertising is successful. The report calculates that ITV has 78 minutes
a week of advertising airtime around children’s programming, all of
which would come under threat if the ban went ahead.