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What is EASA?

The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) is the single authoritative voice on advertising self-regulation issues and promotes high ethical standards in commercial communications by means of effective self-regulation, while being mindful of national differences of culture, legal and commercial practice. These standards are promoted for example via EASA's Advertising Self-Regulatory Charter and EASA's Best Practice Recommendations. As a non-profit organisation based in Brussels, it brings together national advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs) and organisations representing the advertising industry in Europe and beyond.

What does EASA do?

EASA promotes responsible advertising by providing detailed guidance on how to go about advertising self-regulation across the Single Market for the benefit of consumers and businesses.

How does EASA do it?

Promotion and development of self-regulation in the advertising sector

Over the years EASA has helped to set up several self-regulatory systems in Europe and still continues to promote self-regulation both at a national level through road shows and at a European level by informing the European institutions of the benefits of advertising self-regulation. Especially at a European level EASA has been successful to promote self-regulation as an alternative to detailed legislation, a fact that has been repeated in several directives already.

Strengthens and extends self-regulation across Europe and beyond

In 2004 the advertising industry signed the EASA Advertising Self-Regulation Charter, in which the advertisers, the agencies and the media pledged to make self-regulatory systems across the whole of Europe stronger and more effective. This meant setting up systems in some of the new countries, which did not yet have a self-regulatory system, and strengthening the already existing systems.

Building on the Charter, EASA set up a number of commitments and reported back to the European Institutions by the end of 2007. The report found that although further improvements can be made many of the self-regulatory organisations (SROs) had reached or were on their way to reaching the commitments put in place.

As with most businesses, the advertising business is also getting more and more international. To attend to these international needs EASA has set up the EASA International Council, which will help consolidate self-regulation globally.

Best Practice in self-regulation

One of the ways that EASA strengthens and consolidates self-regulation is by providing self-regulatory organisations (SROs) with Best Practice Recommendations. EASA currently has Best Practice Recommendations in the following areas:

  • Code drafting and consultation
  • Communications and awareness
  • Complaints handling
  • Confidentiality
  • Copy advice
  • Digital marketing communications
  • Jury composition
  • Monitoring of advertising
  • Publication of decisions
  • SRO Communications
  • SRO funding
  • Substantiation of claims

Cross-border complaints

The Cross-Border Complaints (CBC) system is an agreement by which all self-regulatory organisations that are a member of EASA have agreed to handle cross-border complaints under the same conditions as national complaints. The system was established immediately after setting up EASA in 1992 and is still widely used.

Two types of complaints fall under the term Cross-Border Complaint:

First of all it can be a complaint from a person in one country about an advertisement that has appeared in that country, but was carried in media based in another country. For example: an Irish consumer who receives television broadcasts from the UK wishes to complain about the content of an advertisement.

Second it can be a complaint made by a Czech person about an ad she saw while on holiday in France. That person would then send her complaint to the self-regulatory organisation in the Czech Republic which would then forward it to its counterpart in France.

In both cases the consumer can also send the complaint directly to EASA who will then forward the complaint to the correct body.

Why does EASA do it?

EASA believes in legal, decent, truthful and honest advertising. Such advertising does not only inform the consumer of the different products and services available, it can also bring more colour to life. Also this type of advertising ensures consumer's trust which is imperative to any medium to long-term marketing strategy.

EASA was created in 1992 in response to a direct challenge from the then EU Competition Commissioner, Sir Leon Brittan, to show how the issues affecting advertising in the Single Market could be successfully dealt with through co-operation rather than detailed legislation. The national self-regulatory bodies and the European Advertising industry have responded by demonstrating their strong commitment to effective self-regulation as a means of promoting high standards in advertising across Europe and safeguarding consumers' interests.

An initiative to bring together industry stakeholders resulted in the establishment of the EASA Advertising Self-Regulatory Charter. This charter commits the advertising industry to increased moral and financial support for self-regulatory systems across Europe, concentrating on the need for strict codes to reflect developments in the marketplace and society in general.