Commission backs brewing sector's self regulatory approach

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Self-regulation as a way of preventing irresponsible advertising by Europe’s brewers is being supported by the European Commission, with the sector’s progress in this regard cited as substantial by regulators.

As the Brewers of Europe released its report on advertising self-regulation, written in conjunction with independent body the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), European Commission director general Robert Madelin praised the body’s ongoing efforts, saying the report shows that law and self-regulation can work hand in hand.

The brewing sector said it is committed to having its adverts judged by independent third parties, and the trade association added that its report highlights significant progress made on self-regulation regarding its communications.

In 2007, the Brewers of Europe set up, under the European Alcohol and Health Forum, a Europe-wide advertising self-regulation initiative to give national brewing associations in the bloc the tools to review and improve​their advertising self-regulation systems through the development of seven operational standards.

The trade body said its KPMG validated report released demonstrates the substantial progress made since with self-regulation systems set up in countries where they did not exist before.

Additionally, they said, the publication notes that 10 countries improved their complaints handling systems through further incorporation of independent elements; consumer awareness of advertising self-regulation systems was increased in 24 out of 27 countries, and 26 countries have a complaints handling system in place with effective sanctions.

It has often been argued that British-style self regulation has failed in this regard and the best way forward is French style restrictions on alcohol promotion.

But secretary general of the brewing trade body, Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, who took over long-serving predecessor Rodolphe de Looz-Corswarem in January, told this publication previously that he has seen no evidence to suggest that the advertising restrictions in the 1990 Loi Evin have reduced alcohol related harm in France.

Alcohol consumption may have decreased in France since 1990, but Bergeron said there was a downward trend already in place. As for the self-regulation system in the UK, he said it is a “source of inspiration”​ for other countries in Europe.

If some people see fault in the system, he said perhaps they are just expecting too much, and that regulation does not hold a magic key to reducing alcohol abuse. Instead, the Brewers of Europe argues that the best approach to tackling abuse involves more flexible and targeted schemes.

When taking on the role of head of the trade body, Bergeron said that he wanted to impress on EU decision makers the "conviviality" of beer, and its role in European well-being.

This message covers the place of beer in European culture and society, as well as the importance of the brewing industry to European economies and jobs, he added.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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