Written question to the European Commission

Despite unequivocal evidence that the exposure of children to unhealthy food marketing is harmful to both child health and children’s rights, the EU has failed to effectively regulate such marketing for over 15 years. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) continues to rely on self-regulation, which has consistently proven ineffective in addressing the issue.

The European Parliament has explicitly called on the Commission in its Farm to Fork Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to come forward with EU-wide rules prohibiting the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to minors.

1. Considering that the AVMSD does not provide a comprehensive and effective set of rules, how does the Commission intend to make a concrete proposal to effectively regulate this matter?

2. Does the Commission plan to bring the responsibility for this important issue back to where it belongs, in DG SANTE?

3. To what extent will the Commission take into account the proposal for a directive on the approximation of the laws of Member States on the protection of children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food, which was drafted by EU law and food marketing academic experts on behalf of a coalition of over 20 NGOs?

Answer given by Commissioner Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission

The Commission has undertaken several activities on responsible marketing of food. In 2019, the Joint Research Centre published a toolkit to help Member States develop marketing policies in the context of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

In 2020, a study on children exposure to marketing of food high in fat, salt or sugar was published.

To support the Farm to Fork Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Commission launched the Best ReMaP joint action, which includes initiatives focused on reducing marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy an EU Code of conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices was launched in July 2021, to help foster a food environment that makes it easier to choose healthy and sustainable diets.

Creating such a food environment is also an objective of the legislative framework for sustainable food systems announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy .

The draft initiative of the Union law and food marketing academic experts is a valuable example that can guide further action in this field.

The Commission’s framework on learning key competences (LifeComp) will also help Member States educate young people to use reliable information and services for health and social protection.

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