The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of Dutch GUE/NGL MEP Dennis de Jong's report on misleading advertising, backing the fight against acquisition fraud and putting pressure on Council and Commission to take prompt action.

“This month thousands more firms will have received a fake bill for as much as €960 for the registration of their patents,” De Jong explained after the vote. “Thanks to initiatives such as the fraud hotline, a lot of people will be able to identify a bogus bill. With this report we’re making a sound attempt at the European level to put an end to these forms of deception, for example by setting up a hotline of this kind in every country.”

The report, however, goes much further, and by backing it, MEPs have expressed their support for a blacklist of culprit businesses as well as the most commonly occurring illegal practices. Abusive companies will be excluded from receiving subsidies. Also important is the possibility of constructing a collective picture of the situation.

“As things stand there are often no legal proceedings brought because the sums involved are too small, yet added together they quickly reach into the millions. This measure would increase the chances of perpetrators being caught.”

Finally, De Jong proposes the drawing up of agreements on national guidelines on prosecution in order to give greater priority to tackling acquisition fraud on the part of the police and public prosecutors.

“It is important that this action is taken at European level as a lot of these companies operate across borders, so cooperation is crucial if they are to be tackled. With so much support from the European Parliament the member states and the Commission can no longer beat about the bush.”

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