EC abandons plan for sales promotions regulation

The European Union sales promotion regulation is expected to be jettisoned by the European Commission later this week, after member states failed to reach a consensus.

The idea of creating an internal market for sales promotion, allowing advertisers to run identical promotions across the EU, was first presented as a draft proposal in October 2001. It had been in trouble following a political impasse in 2003 when members clashed over two main issues – a cap on prize funds and promoting to children.

The proposal to cap promotional prize values at â¬100,000 (&£67,700) was later dropped.

Institute of Sales Promotion director general Edwin Mutton says: “We probably put the final nail in the coffin because we told the Commission that the regulation was not worth supporting in its present form. We are a bit sore about it because we spent more than &£250,000 in lobbying and costs, but there was a complete lack of commitment in Europe to the principle that there should be no barriers to trade.”

The regulation on sales promotions was drawn up in order to break down barriers to cross-border sales promotions on discounts, premiums, gifts, competitions and promotional games and to replace them with rules on transparency and information designed to ensure freedom of movement.

Once passed by national governments, the regulation would have brought the countries with the most restrictive laws promotions – such as France and Belgium – into line with more liberal countries such as the UK.

The regulation would also have abolished the pre-vetting of promotions by regulators.

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