Elaine Watson Brussels has watered down a controversial proposal to end bans on below cost selling in EU member states and force retailers to display cost prices at point of sale. An amended version of the proposal, which will be debated by the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament on July 2, has removed clauses on below cost selling, and relaxed the information requirements on retailers. The initial draft was slammed as "unworkable and counterproductive" by retailers, and the new version has avoided the below cost issue altogether. However, version two still has teeth, stressed a Commission spokesman. "This proposal would give retailers across the EU the flexibility to operate a wide range of promotional strategies. "If this becomes law, it will have major ramifications in countries such as Germany, France and Belgium, where retailers are prevented from running all sorts of promotions like bogofs, multisaves, scratchcard deals and so on. "In some states, you can't even offer air miles or discounts above a certain percentage." This has been a sore point in Germany, where retailers including Wal-Mart and Aldi have repeatedly fallen foul of the authorities over pricing tactics in recent years. While laws regulating discounts and special offers in Germany were slightly relaxed last July, the new proposal would significantly liberalise current arrangements, he added. Although the UK and the Netherlands have more liberal regimes, the new law would also have an impact here, for example ending requirements for pre-authorisation for financial services promotions. If it is adopted by the legal affairs committee, it will go before the plenary session of the European Parliament in September, and on to the Council of Ministers in November. It could become law "as early as next year". {{NEWS }}