Commission decides that the Swedish intention to impose a ban on alcohol advertising on two UK broadcasters is not compatible with EU rules

The European Commission has decided, on the basis of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), that the Swedish intention to impose their ban on alcohol advertising on two broadcasters based in the UK and broadcasting in Sweden is not compatible with EU law.

“After seven years of waiting, on 1 February, IOGT-NTO finally received the reply on our landmark case against UK-based companies who broadcast alcohol marketing to Sweden. The Commission decided to not allow Sweden to sanction the broadcasters. The case concerns article 4 of the AVMSD,” said Kalle Dramstad, IOGT-NTO´s European Policy Officer.

“The AVMSD is based on the principle of the country of origin, according to which broadcasters are subject solely to the rules of the Member State where they are established, including when they broadcast to other EU countries. The AVMSD does not prohibit alcohol advertising, but allows Member States to apply stricter rules, including a full ban, on broadcasters under their jurisdiction. Such a ban exists in Sweden,” European Commissions decision states. “In order to impose such a ban on the UK broadcasters, Sweden should have demonstrated, under the specific procedure contained in Article 4 of the AVMS directive, that the broadcasters in question established themselves in the UK in order to circumvent such rules. The burden of proof lies with the Member State and the Commission found in this case that Sweden failed to prove circumvention on the part of the two broadcasters.”

“The decision affects marketing rules in countries all over the EU by failing to make sure that national legislation can be upheld against broadcasters who want to circumvent it – regardless if it concerns alcohol, HFSS-food marketing or something else,” Dramstad said.

IOGT-NTO is sending an open letter to health attachés as well as parliament negotiators. The letter calls on the trilogue negotiators to revisit article 4 of the AVMSD in view of this decision by the Commission.

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