Brussels, 2nd October 2001
Proposal for a Regulation to remove restrictions on sales promotions frequently asked questions
How would this proposed Regulation work?
Once adopted by the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers under the so-called co-decision procedure, the Regulation would be directly applicable in the Member States without the need for national implementing measures and would override any national laws in the areas it covers.
Would this mean that certain national bans on sales promotions would no longer be applicable?
Yes. General (non-sectoral) bans on sales promotions that currently exist in some Member States would no longer be applicable. Examples of sales promotion bans that would be removed by the proposed Regulation include:
How would this proposal protect consumers' interests?
It would replace outdated and disproportionate bans with modern, effective information requirements that ensure that consumers benefit from a high level of protection and are able to make informed decisions. First, the proposed Regulation would impose two detailed sets of information requirements that promoters will have to adhere to (see below). Second, it would impose specific conditions to protect minors and young adults. In particular, a promoter, when making a sales promotion, could not collect personal data from a child without the verifiable prior consent from that child's legal guardian. Moreover, promoters would be prohibited from providing directly to a child a free gift or a premium if it was of a nature that could harm its physical health. Finally, promoters would be prohibited from providing a free gift consisting of an alcoholic beverage to individuals under the age of 18.. The proposed Regulation would also make it easy for consumers to take action against sales promotions that did not comply with the provisions of the Regulation.
In particular, promoters would be obliged to:
Moroever, promoters would be obliged to:
What are the information requirements proposed?
All sales promotions:
What would happen to sectoral restrictions that exist in the Member States and that have not been harmonised at EU level?
These would remain in force in those Member States that have them but would be made subject to mutual recognition. In other words, the Member States will not be able to apply these sectoral restrictions to sales promotions from other Member States.
What sort of restrictions would the proposed Regulation tackle?
There are a variety of sales promotions services that are currently restricted by differing national laws. It is these restrictions that the Regulation would remove. Examples would include: restrictions on exports of sales promotion, design and other advertising agency services; restrictions to media planning or media sales services; restrictions to direct marketing services as well as restrictions on media services. All these result from differing laws on sales promotions and all have been recognised by the Member States in the context of the Expert Group that considered these problems over the past three years. Current differences in national laws also have an indirect restrictive effect on the free movement of goods in so far as these benefit from sales promotions. Thus, the free movement of goods should also benefit from this proposal.
Why propose a Regulation at the same time as launching a Green Paper on consumer protection?
The proposed Regulation takes account of consultations on a previous Green Paper on commercial communications adopted in 1996 by the Commission and a subsequent Commission Communication in 1998 (see IP/98/211). Clear restrictions were identified in this field at that time and this Regulation is a targeted or specific response to those clearly identified restrictions. It represents a specific measure that would be compatible with any of the options presented in the Green Paper on consumer protection that has just been adopted by the Commission (see IP/01/11354 and MEMO/01/307).
Why does the proposed Regulation not include specific rules to ban sales promotions for tobacco?
Because any form of commercial communications with the aim or indirect effect of promoting a tobacco product would already be prohibited (except for publications intended exclusively for professionals in the tobacco trade and publications from non-EU countries not principally intended for the EU market) by the May 2001 proposal for a Directive on tobacco advertising and sponsorship (see IP/01/767).
Would the proposed Regulation's rules on promotional games apply to gambling services?
No, gambling services are excluded from the scope of this proposal.