Europe's Council of Ministers in Brussels has agreed to allow comparative ads throughout the 15 countries in the European Union. A majority of 12 agreed on the text of a new directive. The new law will come into force in mid-1998. It stipulates that member states will not be allowed to enforce any rules that go further than the directive. The effect of this will be minimal, however, because only Belgium has an outright ban on comparative ads.
Separately, the EC is down to four agencies in consideration to handle Citizens First, a campaign to promote the benefits of the internal European market to consumers. Lintas (Interpublic), Hill & Knowlton (WPP), Burson Marsteller (Young & Rubicam) and independent PR network Worldcom will compete for the task. The budget is not yet finalized; estimates range from $13 million to $39 million. The campaign will begin early next year.