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Parliamentary questions
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15 December 2005
Answer given by Mr Kyprianou on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-4254/2005

The Commission has received a number of complaints relating to the practices of the European city guide, both from businesses affected by them and from MEPs writing on behalf of their constituents.

In general, practices such as those described in the Honourable Member's question amount to misleading advertising. Community legislation provides a tool to combat scams of this sort in the form of Council Directive 84/450/EEC of 10 September 1984(1) on misleading and comparative advertising as amended by Directive 97/55/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 1997(2). This directive has been transposed into all Member States’ national legal systems and provides for the use of cessation orders or other legal proceedings to prohibit the continued use of misleading advertising.

The Commission has no powers to enforce the directive against individuals as this is the competence of national enforcement authorities in the countries from which such schemes operate. It is for the competent law courts and/or public enforcement authorities of the Member States to decide in each case whether a commercial communication is to be considered misleading and to take appropriate enforcement actions. The Commission could only start infringement proceedings against Member States if it became evident that they are not applying the directive.

Although the Commission is not able to take direct action against companies such as the European city guide, it nonetheless closely follows the activities of national authorities. In the case of the European city guide, the Commission has been informed that the Catalan authorities have taken several measures against the company, including a decision in 2003 to close it down and impose a fine of EUR 300000. This decision has been appealed, and it appears that the European city guide has in the meantime moved its activities from Barcelona to Valencia.

Against this background, and within the limits of Community competence in this case, the Commissioner responsible for health and consumer affairs, decided to directly contact the Spanish authorities in order for them to look into this case and take the appropriate measures. The Commissioner is personally writing to his Spanish counterpart drawing attention to this matter.

(1)OJ L 250, 19.9.1984.
(2)OJ L 290, 23.10.1997.

OJ C 327, 30/12/2006
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