Laws against misleading advertisements differ widely from member state to member state within the EU. To respond to this imperfection in the internal market, the European Commission adopted a directive to establish minimum and objective criteria regarding truth in advertising. Under the directive, misleading advertising is defined as any "advertising which in any way, including its presentation, deceives or is likely to deceive the persons to whom it is addressed or whom it reaches and which, by reason of its deceptive nature, is likely to affect their economic behavior or which for those reasons, injures or is likely to injure a competitor." Comparative advertising, subject to certain conditions, is defined as "advertising which explicitly or by implication identifies a competitor or goods or services by a competitor".
The EU’s television without frontiers directive lays down legislation on broadcasting activities allowed within the EU. It is currently being reviewed to adapt to advances in the internet, mobile phones and digital TV technologies. It partially lifts regulations on insertion of television advertising, product placement, and proposes to ban advertising to children of food and drinks. Following the adoption of the 1999 council directive on the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees, product specifications, as laid down in advertising, are now considered legally binding on the seller. The EU adopted Directive 2005/29/EC concerning fair business practices in a further attempt to tighten up consumer protection rules. These new rules outlaw several aggressive or deceptive marketing practices such as pyramid schemes, "liquidation sales" when a shop is not closing down and artificially high prices as the basis for discounts, in addition to other potentially misleading advertising practices.
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