Following a wide ranging review of existing member state sponsorship laws, a European Commission Expert group has reached a shattering conclusion.
Who: European Commission Expert Group
When: March 2003
Marketinglaw.co.uk understands that the EC’s Commercial Communications Expert Group has decided that no new EC legislation should be introduced specifically to regulate sponsorship activities.
The Expert Group, which comes under Directorate General XV (Internal Market), has been reviewing the operation of sponsorship in the European Community. As well as reviewing applicable existing national legislation, the Expert Group has also operated a consultation process. (One of the key respondents to this process was the European Sponsorship Consultants Association (“ESCA”), and Osborne Clarke’s Nick Johnson was actively involved in helping ESCA Vice-Chairman Helen Day in submitting views on behalf of the sponsorship industry in Europe.)
It looks now as if the Expert Group’s unanimous view is that no specific sponsorship legislation is required at EC level. A working paper is due to be issued on this by DG Markt at the end of April.
Why this matters
There is no doubt that differences in local law between EC member states can have an impact on sponsorships. France’s Loi Evin for instance has a potentially substantial impact on European sponsorship activity by alcoholic beverage brands. Restrictions in other countries on marketing to children can also have a limiting effect.
However, these local law issues are typically more to do with aspects of marketing messages generally, so they impact not just on sponsorship but also on above the line advertising, promotions, direct mail etc.
If harmonising legislation is needed on any of these issues (and that is a big “if”!), it is not needed purely in relation to their impact on sponsorships.
24 March 2003
Nick Johnson is a partner in Osborne Clarke’s City of London office, specialising in sponsorship, marketing and advertising law. He is also a board director of the European Sponsorship Consultants Association.