EU asks if marketing laws are fit for purpose, but will they still apply to UK?

The European Commission is undertaking a public consultation to check up on the "fitness" of the current EU consumer and marketing legislation - and the PRCA has warned that UK PRs should keep tabs on the laws despite the impending Brexit.

This covers a whole host of different EU directives, including the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD). The consultation will assess whether these directives are fit for purpose, by looking at their effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and "EU added value".

One prohibited practice listed by the UCPD that will be of particular interest to PR is "using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial)".

The speedy ascent of social media influencers and development of native advertising has meant this is now a notably grey area – the UCPD came about in 2005.

The Public Relations Institute of Ireland and the UK's PRCA have both said they will be making submissions to the consultation, which will finish on 2 September.

With Britain’s relationship with the EU uncertain following the Brexit vote, it is unclear what significance many pieces of legislation will have, the UCPD among them, but the PRCA's head of public affairs, policy and research stresses that it is still vital to pay attention to changes and discussions.

"Over the course of Brexit, the UK industry is still going to have to understand and address regulation like UCPD," Nicholas Dunn-McAfee told PRWeek.

"The reason is twofold. The first is that a great deal of this is relatively established, politically non-contentious in the UK and so is unlikely to change significantly. The second – with Philip Hammond today ruling out the single market – is what exactly will be agreed to access this single market. PRs already ensure there are clear lines between editorial and advertising, but parability creates its own requirements."

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