The European Commission (DG Connect) organised a public consultation on a "Code for Effective Open Voluntarism: Good design principles for self- and co-regulation and other multi-stakeholder actions." EPHA responded to the Consultation to highlight the evidence base showing that self-regulation does not work to achieve health policy objectives and to highlight governance issues in relation to voluntary regulation. EPHA also participated in a public meeting to discuss the draft code that took place in September.
For many economic operators, the code went too far and was too strongly worded, in regard to provisions on monitoring, penalties, and reporting. Furthermore, many corporate representatives ”felt that including public authorities without defining their roles is irresponsible. One group even referred to this as “privatised law enforcement.”
These positions are in sharp contrast with the EPHA position, as research shows that without proper enforcement any voluntary regulatory measure will fail. EPHA also stressed the need for enhanced dialogue among the relevant EU bodies and stakeholders, including civil society representatives.
The EPHA response shows that there is no evidence that self regulation works to reduce alcohol related harmor decrease obesity levels. Therefore, EPHA strongly encourages the Commission to consider the legislative approach in matters that impact on population health.
Public health actors welcomed indications from the Commission that the code would not lead to a lowering of standards laid down in current or past legislation, should respect internationally agreed standards and principles and that developing a code for voluntary regulation “does NOT mean voluntarism should substitute for lawmaking and regulation in any systematic manner”.
In their response to the Smart Regulation Consultation response, the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC) stated: "We are particularly concerned about the European Commission’s increasing sympathy with and reliance on self-regulation, which the recent consultation by DG Connect called “Open consultation on a Code for Effective Open Voluntarism: Good design principles for self- and co-regulation and other multi-stakeholder actions”. This trend raises substantial questions and legitimate concerns. While self-regulation can be a useful additional tool under certain conditions, our experience shows that many such initiatives fail to deliver to consumers and fall short of being smart alternatives to regulation by the legislators. The area of financial services is one of the major sectors where over-reliance on self-regulation has shown to be disastrous for consumers."
EPHA reiterates its belief that the private sector and vested interests should not be involved in policy development, strategy development, norms or standards setting, although they have a key role in the implementation process
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