EU REPORT RECOMMENDS PANEL TO RULE ON LAWS IMPEDING PAN-EURO ADS

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[Brussels] It's official: local laws still hamper advertising across the single European market, despite the creation of the European Community four years ago.

According to a long-awaited EU working paper released last week, a high-level committee should be set up to rule on industry complaints about local regulations that interfere with pan-European advertising and marketing.

The working paper, drafted by the EU's European Commission executive arm, calls for a committee made up of representatives from each of the 15 member countries, chaired by the commission.

FASTER RESPONSE

The committee will "speed up responses to complaints enormously," said a European Commission official.

Currently, such complaints can be filed to the commission under an existing procedure called infringement, but typically take years. For example, international toy marketers have been protesting a ban on toy advertising in Greece for more than two years.

The planned committee could deal with cases "in as little as three months," the official said.

The working paper and its proposals have yet to be approved by the EU's Council of Ministers and Parliament, expected to happen by the yearend.

France's Evin Law outlawing alcoholic beverage advertising is likely to be among the first challenged. Anheuser-Busch recently filed a complaint with the European Commission to lift the 6-year-old law, which also forbids sports sponsorship by alcoholic beverage brands. A-B is one of seven main sponsors for the World Cup soccer championships, to be held in France next year.

The new paper, called a Green Paper in EU parlance, also requires governments to inform the commission before adopting new laws affecting advertising and marketing. That should stop passage of laws in one country that ban activity legal elsewhere, the commission official said.

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