In Belgium, Federal public health minister Maggie De Block has reached an agreement with the Federation of Belgian brewers, the drinks industry group Vinum et Spiritus and the Advertising Industry Council to bring in new advertising rules for alcoholic drinks.
From September 2019, stricter rules will apply to alcohol advertising in Belgium, requiring prior advice and imposing higher fines.
The stricter rules are part of the Convention on the advertising and marketing of alcoholic drinks concluded between representatives of the alcohol sector and the Belgian Advertising Council in 2005 and revised in 2013. The objective of the Convention is to provide better information to consumers about the responsible consumption of alcohol. The recent amendment includes three stricter measures:
• Prior advice: the members of the Federation of Belgian Brewers and the Federation Vinum et Spiritus will have to request advice from the Jury for Ethical Practices in Advertising (JEP) before launching their national radio/TV advertising
New stricter rules on ads for alcoholic drinks in Belgium campaigns and cinema advertising. Until now, obtaining such advice was voluntary. Advice will cost € 250 (excl. VAT) for members and € 500 for non-members.
• Fines: JEP will have the power to sanction the members of the two federations for repeated infringements during the same year with a fine of up to 10,000 €. The amount of the fine will depend on the size and scope of the advertising campaign, the size of the advertiser, the seriousness of the offence, the degree of usefulness of an early termination of an advertising campaign, the degree of cooperation of the advertiser, the number of violations of the Convention within the past year and recidivism.
• Involvement of the Ministry of Health:A health expert will participate in the meetings of JEP which relate exclusively to matters regarding the advertising of alcoholic beverages. “The irresponsible use of alcohol can have negative effects on health,” De Block said. “That is something alcohol producers absolutely need to take into account when creating advertisements.”