Concerned by the rising presence of online media, especially social media and their sometimes intrusive not to say inappropriate actions, the European Economic and Social Committee published, on 18 September 2012, its opinion on "A framework for advertising aimed at young people and children" whose Rapporteur was Mr Pegado Liz.

Conscious of advertisement’s impact on children and young people’s physical, mental and moral development and concerned by the fact that it might represent a tangible threat to human dignity as well as to physical and mental integrity, the EESC Report deplores the current EU framework in the area. In particular, the report regrets part of its foundations, the Council Recommendation on "Achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity" that, back in 1998, prioritised the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry over public health.

The EESC Report covers a broad range of advertising content, from unhealthy products such as alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy foods, to violent, racist, xenophobic, erotic and pornographic content. It highlights the fact that Member States have very different measures in place in these areas (such as the French loi Evin) and that such differences have a considerable impact on the internal market.

It insists on the fact that further emphasis should be put on "empowering, informing and educating children about the proper use, analysis and interpretation of information technologies". Thus, it brings up the possibility to include these elements in the school curricula. The report also considers the importance and need to engage with parents and families as they have a clear role in mediating the information received and integrated by children.

Generally, according to the EESC, the current advertising framework does not provide an appropriate nor proportionate enough answer to the current needs and existing threats to children’s rights to protection. Thus, it urges the European Commission to give urgent thought to the need to adopt more restrictive, cross-cutting measures to effectively guarantee these rights, namely a "universal ban on advertising making undue and improper use of images of children in areas not related to them". In that context, the report claims that the Lisbon Treaty offers a number of new possibilities that should be further thought through.

- Advertising / young people and children - The European Economic and Social Committee opinion can be accessed

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Last modified on December 3 2012.