FEDMA, the trade body representing Europe's direct marketing industry, welcomed yesterday's proposals by the European Commission for the liberalisation of the EU’s Internal Market for Service Industries.

Greeting the news as “a vital step forward for service industries in general and direct marketing specifically”, FEDMA director general Alastair Tempest welcomed the new EC strategy which stresses that service companies established in one EU member state will also be able to operate from and within any other EU country.

By the end of 2002, the EC aims to remove all unnecessary regulatory and administrative barriers preventing service providers from expanding into new EU markets. Many FEDMA members use more than one direct marketing medium – mail, internet and telephone – in their marketing campaigns. At present, they have to cope with different EU cross-border strategies, with the resultant duplication of rules and inconsistent national applications.

A comprehensive framework for free movement of services will reflect more closely the way the real economy works and make it easier for marketers to develop within the Internal Market, FEDMA believes.

Says Tempest: “The traditional sector-by-sector approach is too limited for today’s rapidly evolving service industry, of which direct marketing constitutes an important part. In the past, traditional service sectors were covered by EU initiatives, while the benefits of direct marketing were mainly ignored. With this new initiative we feel confident that our members will be better protected and increase their opportunities to prosper in Europe.”

“One example would be companies marketing over the internet, but still conducting a lot of their business off-line. These companies will be better covered by a comprehensive horizontal approach to the industry than by a sector-by-sector or medium-by-medium model”.

The Commission's timeframe for the initiative is two-phased, starting this year by identifying the existing barriers to the service industry within the Internal Market. Year 2002 will be the core of the EC’s new approach, and based on the analysis of the previous year, it will ask the fifteen EU Member States to remove the remaining barriers.

News source: FEDMA