|Vol 7, No.16, 19.4.01, p8
Consumer affairs chief David Byrne has been urged by his fellow commissioners to "stop selling" his controversial blueprint for EU proposals forcing firms to trade fairly.
They fear his plan will conflict with other single market initiatives and industry groups have warned that a duty to trade "fairly" would be interpreted differently by member states.
The former Irish attorney general and his aides had planned to push through a paper outlining his ideas in time for next week's meeting of EU consumer and single market ministers in Lund, Sweden.
Insiders say Bolkestein, Erkki Liikanen (industry), Viviane Reding (culture) and Loyola de Palacio (transport) insisted instead on an 'orientation debate' - code for a row - over the proposals.
In particular, they told Byrne they did not support his plan for an EU-level mix of legislation and codes of conduct to police industry's advertising and marketing practices.
They said he should stop "selling the idea" before he has consulted more widely and silenced the plan's critics.
First, they say Byrne should merely present ministers in Lund with a questionnaire, asking for their opinions. They also want him to come up with a less prescriptive consultation document.
Catherine Bunyan, Byrne's spokeswoman, confirmed the idea had faced opposition from within the Commission, adding that there "may now be a green paper in May". She said this would be likely to include the scope for a "series of ad-hoc measures or a framework directive". Byrne would also examine the "role that could be played by existing comitology" and ways of "reinforcing cooperation between national authorities".
Comitology procedures allow Commission officials and national experts to discuss technical policy issues.
Under his original plan, Byrne said he favoured an EU-level requirement for firms to "trade fairly". This would be backed by co-regulation schemes, where firms agree to abide by codes of conduct and self regulation.
A coalition of top names from EU and US companies and lobby groups wrote to Commission President Romano Prodi two weeks ago to voice concerns over the scheme; they also claimed they had been shut out of negotiations.
Consumer affairs chief David Byrne has been urged by his fellow Commissioners to 'stop selling' his controversial blueprint for EU proposals forcing firms to trade fairly.
|Business and Industry