New rules from Europe

Alastair Tempest

Two principles supposedly inform the EC's single market: 'mutual recognition' and 'subsidiary', and these might be hoped to preserve existing national advertising regulation arrangements. However it looks increasingly unlikely that the European Parliament will allow this; more certain that ever tougher, wider-ranging controls - however anomalous - will be imposed from the top. The precedent of tobacco regulation, inter alia, threatens many other sectors, and a new 'publiphobia' is abroad to encourage interference.

One might ask why there should be any prospect of new rules for advertising in the new Europe. The Single European Market, it is said, will work because it is based on two inter-related philosophies: that of mutual recognition, and that of subsidarity recognition of the differences in national laws between the EC member states, so long as these do not distort inter-Community trade. Subsidiary means that international bodies should not take upon themselves powers over issues which are better dealt with at national level, or that national governments should not assume control over issues better exercised at regional level.