|Author (Person)||Chapman, Peter|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.29, 19.7.01, p6|
FRENCH wine producers are urging Single Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein to end years of delays and take Paris to court after they became the latest victim of a controversial alcohol advertising law.
The demand follows a row after Languedoc wine-makers were ordered to remove their advertisements from shirts worn by the Narbonne rugby team ahead of a prestige match against the UK's Harlequins.
The club was told to remove the commercial message at the last minute and the French players emerged from their dressing rooms with a plastic label across their shirts bearing the slogan 'advertising banned'.
Joël Castany, treasurer of the Languedoc wine producers' association, said the team was told that unless they covered up the televised European Shield game would not be broadcast in France.
He argues that the French laws governing alcohol advertising are in breach of EU rules on the free movement of services across Union borders. Speaking after a meeting with Bolkestein's cabinet, he said the Commissioner should "take his responsibility and make a reference to the European Court of Justice" over the law known as the 'Loi Evin'.
The European Commission was on the brink of court action after being inundated with complaints from drinks firms in the early 1990s, but has always balked at the final hurdle - preferring to issue warning letters instead.
Critics say this was because it did not want to be seen punishing a member state for rules designed to protect health. Paris has sought to avoid legal action by drawing up a code of conduct on the application of the law - although Castany claims he has never been shown a copy.
The code is meant to stop the law from damaging the single market by allowing the broadcast of major events without restrictions. But Castany said this discriminates against small-scale advertisers - such as Vins du Languedoc - who could not afford to promote their products at bigger sporting events such as the Heineken Cup - named after Dutch beer giant.
He said the day before the Harlequins-Narbonne tie, a Heineken Cup match had been broadcast quite legally on French TV. It featured clear advertisements for the beer and even showed players from Leicester and Paris pouring beer over each other after the game. "When I was I was sitting in front of my TV and I could see the people bathing in Heineken I thought that I was not doing anything wrong," he added.
French wine producers are urging Single Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein to end years of delays and take Paris to court after they became the latest victim of a controversial alcohol advertising law.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Health|
|Countries / Regions||France|