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BEUC urges MEPs not to agree to put the cart before the horse

03 September 2002, 14:13 CET


On 4 September the European Parliament will vote in first reading on the proposed regulation on sales promotions (report by Mr. Ward Beysen, ELDR, Belgium) which aims at a radical liberalisation of sales promotion techniques in the EU.

We urge MEPs not to give the go-ahead to this proposal but to reject it at this stage. Not only is it seriously flawed in terms of consumer protection standards and legal certainty, it also prejudges many of the questions posed in the Green Paper on consumer protection and the pending Commission initiative establishing a regime for fair commercial practices. Rules for specific techniques including sales promotions must only be set once these initiatives have been finalised.

Opposition was already voiced by the European Parliament Committees for Environment and Consumer Affairs and Industry. Both called on the Legal Affairs Committee and Mr. Beysen to ask the Commission to withdraw the proposal pending further and wider consultation with stakeholders.
We regret that the Legal Affairs Committee did not support these calls.

BEUC and our member organisations are in principle in favour of a liberalisation of sales promotion rules with regard to so-called free gifts, promotional games and prize-draw mailshots throughout the EU, but we do not support the approach proposed in the draft regulation. This would simply
abolish national consumer protection standards. In many cases the proposal would only require that consumers receive information on the promotional offers if they ask for it. If they don't ask, they won't. The Legal Affairs Committee now even wants to free business of many of these requirements.

The report by the Legal Affairs Committee would enable promoters to collect personal data from children without parents' prior consent, and would reduce cross-border complaint facilities, while getting redress in cross-border situations is one of the major obstacles to consumer confidence in the Single Market.

We fear that the proposed regulation would leave member states unable to protect their consumers from practices considered unfair by national law, but offered into their jurisdictions by cross-border operators.

Jim Murray, BEUC director, "urges the full Parliament to follow the advice of the Environment and Industry Committees and request the Commission to rethink the proposal and to submit a new draft if necessary once the fair trading initiative is further advanced".

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation, is the Brussels based federation of independent national consumer organisations from all the Member States of the EU and from other European countries. Our job is to try to influence, in the consumer interest, the development of EU policy and to promote and defend the interests of all European consumers.

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