EU Commissioner praises EU Pledge and industry food marketing pledge


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During a half day seminar hosted by the European Advertising Standards Alliance on 29 March in Brussels, looking into the critical role of responsible advertising in empowering consumer choice as well as its effect on economic growth, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, John Dalli, expressed praise for self-regulation.

In his keynote speech, the Commissioner talked about initiatives in the field of alcohol, food and cosmetics advertising as well as 'green claims' and online data protection.

In particular, the Commissioner picked out for praise the EU pledge and advertising self-regulation (industry-wide standards monitored and enforced through self-regulatory organisations- SROs- at national level).


On the EU Pledge:
“The Commission steers a EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, whose members are European level stakeholders from the food industry, the restaurant sector, advertisers and consumer NGOs. The platform members have delivered 300 commitments for action. One of the most significant of these commitments is the EU Pledge whereby major food and drink companies have committed themselves not to target TV, print, or internet advertising at children under 12, and not to advertise in primary schools. 19 major companies, representing approximately 75% of food and beverage advertising spent [sic] in the EU, implement this pledge. Monitoring carried out in 2010 shows that these self-regulation commitments do have an impact. I am pleased that the companies involved have scaled up this pledge, with a stricter audience definition, an increase in the market coverage and the extension to digital media."

On data privacy:
“A recent Eurobarometer survey showed that 72% of internet users are concerned about disclosing too much personal data online. Consumers are often unsure about how their data is accessed and processed and do not always realise that it could be used by online advertisers. This risks undermining consumer trust in the online environment as a whole. It is vital, therefore, to ensure that consumers have control over their data online and to provide them with information that is easily accessible and easy to understand.”

On advertising self-regulation:
“A final word on self-regulation. I believe this can be a useful tool, amongst others, and one that can usefully complement the work of public enforcers. I also recognise that self-regulation has a number of advantages over formal regulation, especially in terms of flexibility. I believe that self-regulation can serve as a best practice, but only if two core pre-conditions can be met. These are crucial to ensuring the credibility and effectiveness of self-regulatory systems. First, self-regulation needs to be trusted in order to be effective, and in order to be trusted it needs to be participative and involve civil society; Second, self-regulation needs to be based on adequate monitoring and control of its performance and outcomes. Self-Regulatory Bodies need to set up user-friendly and effective complaint handling and provide transparency on sanctions for non-compliance. Self-regulation in advertising can only fulfil its potential within a clear legislative framework that reinforces the effectiveness of codes of conducts.”

Responding to a question put by EASA, Commissioner Dalli importantly confirmed that his views on the effectiveness and value of self-regulation, in the field of health and consumer affairs, is the official European Commission view.

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