by Emma Greenow (Brussels)
With what can seem to be an overwhelming increase in the quantity and complexity of EU regulation facing the fashion industry, understanding and taking action in this area can seem as if you are navigating a tangled web of issues and stakeholders.
The recent EU regulatory agenda has included policy reviews in relation to the intellectual property framework, the Digital Agenda, Online Behavioural Advertising, Consumer Rights and redress amongst others. Each of these developments has a direct impact on business activities in the fashion industry in Europe and, for this reason, interaction from rightsholders into the creation of the regulatory framework is essential.
In recognition of this fact, fashion houses and brands are investing heavily in strategic discussions at EU level in order to directly provide input into many of the forthcoming changes. Through enhanced regularised contact with legislators and the provision of timely and helpful advice, all stakeholders are trying to move towards more workable and less cumbersome regulatory obligations for businesses.
An effective example of the need and value of increased dialogue was shown in the drafting of the recent recommendations for Online Behavioural Advertising, where industry, consumer groups and legislators worked together through dialogue to develop a series of best practice principles which all parties supported. As a result of this process, the contributors may well have diverted a further regulatory burden for all stakeholders.
Following the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty, it is vital for all fashion industry participants to engage and input into all 3 key EU institutions, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Legislative advocacy by rightsholders can take many forms – from the traditional methods such as meet and greet sessions with key stakeholders, press releases and local media, to the more sophisticated and targeted advocacy including social media campaigns, video messaging and awareness raising. All methods have definite advantages however it is key to know when to link each method into your activities.
The face of the regulatory framework for the fashion industry is changing rapidly and this trend is likely to continue into 2012 – what is of key importance is your inclusion and input into these forthcoming discussions.