28 January 2013

Berlin Seminar on Self Regulation in Europe

On January 21, EFAMRO and ADM (Germany) hosted a seminar on Self Regulation in Europe. It was attended by representatives of ESOMAR, MRS, CASRO (US), VSMS (Switzerland), MOA (Netherlands), Assirm (Italy) Virke (Norway), Aneimo (Spain) and SMTL (Finland).

The seminar covered:
Current systems of self regulation in Europe. This included short presentations from ADM, Aneimo, ESOMAR, MOA and MRS on their respective experiences in self regulation;
Common Principles for Self Regulation;
Indentifying best practices in self regulation;
Managing risks to self regulation and associations; and
Handling cross border or multi-country complaints.

EFAMRO has three key objectives in this project

  • in countries where no system exists our aim is to help the national association get a basic, but effective, system in place;
  • in countries where there is a system in place our aim is to help the national association learn from experiences in other countries;
  • on a European level our aim is to develop an effective cross-border system.

By effective, we mean that the systems need to be fit for purpose, but not overly complicated (i.e. expensive/burdensome) to put in place and maintain.

There was extensive discussion between participants on the risks and benefits of self-regulation. Both Virke and SMTL reported their progress in developing self-regulation systems with the SMTL system dues to launch soon.

There was also marked contrast between member country environments where conciliation and mediation are expected outcomes (Norway, Switzerland) and more adversarial cultures where adjudication is expected (Germany, UK). Common principles would have to be sufficiently broad and flexible to accommodate both systems.

There appeared to be general agreement on the principles set out in the discussion paper, but further discussions will be required on the issue of cross border and multi-country complaints, particularly on which rules should be applied – there was a general belief that the rules of the respondent’s location should take precedence.

EFAMRO members will return to these issues at their General Meeting in Brussels on March 15 but agreed actions from the seminar involve the creation of:

  • A central resource on self-regulation, including English language versions of regulations and supporting documents (we will be asking for your help with this!);
  • A comparison and checklist of key elements of self-regulation systems; and
  • A contact list for direct queries between EFAMRO members.

Attendees agreed that the seminar was a positive contribution by EFAMRO to this area. The format showed the potential of developing EFAMRO as a community of practice, where members can learn from each other through the process of sharing information and experiences.

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