What would Brexit mean for marketers?
With the EU referendum just days away, and Britain’s marketers, just like the country at large, are under pressure to decide how they will vote in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU on 23 June. Speculation is rife over what Britain might look like if it leaves the EU, and many potential consequences remain unknown, although the outcome of the vote could have far-reaching consequences for how marketers perform their jobs and engage with the wider world.
Advertising regulation in the UK is based on the well-established regulation system whether this is the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP), Advertising Standards Authority, Financial Contact Authority for financial services, and other industry bodies.
BCAP carries out its role under agreement with Ofcom which has statutory responsibility for broadcast regulation under the Communications Act 2003. The advertising industry chooses to exercise self-restraint not only to make further legislation unnecessary, but also as a public demonstration of its commitment to high standards in advertising. CAP see no reason why these principles should not persist in the event of a vote to leave the EU. Many of the rules in the Codes have been implemented by them to address obvious needs and have little or no European context in any case.
However, in some particularly significant instances the Codes approximate or have regard to EU-originating legislation. In the majority of cases these are EU Directives which, by their nature, have had to be implemented in domestic law. For example the European Unfair Commercial Practices Directive is implemented in the UK via the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This legislation underpins our rules on misleading advertising and their interpretation. While it is possible that questions would be asked in due course about the justifiability of such laws they would remain in place until or unless they were repealed by Parliament.
EU regulations (as distinct from directives) apply in the UK without implementing legislation. For instance, the Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims Made on Foods applies Europe-wide and requires that only claims approved on an EU register can be made for food products. These requirements are reflected in the “Food” sections of the Advertising Codes. The UK’s obligation to comply with such regulations would persist until it actually left the EU. That’s probably in two years’ time and potentially longer.
Regardless if the UK votes to leave the EU, marketers should continue to comply with all rule requirements that apply to your chosen sector and remain in effect and enforced until announce otherwise.
In the meantime, the UK Government has published a document entitled “The process for withdrawing from the European Union”. To understand the full implications for advertising regulation, look out for announcements.
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