The EU is a supporter of Europe’s independent cinema production, not a threat to it

February 11, 2015

In its article British film producers warn of new EU threat to industry, 10 February 2015, The Independent reports on what it describes as “EU plans to shake up the online distribution of films” and quotes two representatives of the film industry who foretell the imminent death of Europe’s independent film production.
The article goes on to explain that the alleged plan will make it impossible to create in future films like the recent British hit Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) or the films that were at the BAFTAs .
But the European Commission is not at this stage proposing anything. A proposal is scheduled for later this year, after consultations with all interested parties, but it will not mean changes in how films are made, nor prescribe digital release models. Of course, proposals for new EU laws require approval by a majority of MEPs and a large majority of national Ministers-they cannot …

Tabloids cook up scares about EU energy efficiency measures

January 9, 2015

Summary: new EU energy efficiency rules under the Eco-Design Directive agreed by elected Ministers and MEPs will not reduce the performance of household appliances, as some media have claimed. Indeed, earlier measures have led to appliances performing much better. The changes will save consumers money and give them better information, contribute to tackling climate change and help reduce dependence on imported energy. Industry, consumers and the UK government support the latest changes. From 1 January 2015 they will improve consumer information, particularly online, on how much household appliances cost to run, reduce energy waste by coffee machines and ensure that network devices like routers and smart TVs have an automatic standby mode. Details here. New minimum energy efficiency standards for gas and electric domestic ovens and cookers and for range hoods are to be phased in over four years from February 2015.

“Half-baked – EU cooker diktat is ‘threat’ …

Media blames late Christmas deliveries on EU HGV training rules: a highly selective approach to the facts

December 16, 2014

Fears that a shortage of truck drivers means there will be no Christmas pudding on the supermarket shelves, or that presents bought online will be delivered late?

And an opportunity to blame Brussels?

No wonder several UK newspapers did not hold back.

“Shortage of truck drivers caused by EU rules puts economic recovery at risk…” fulminated the Daily Mail. “Christmas deliveries put at risk by EU” thundered The Times.

“Buy Christmas gifts now, we’re short on lorry drivers, shoppers told” and “Shoppers warned to buy Christmas presents early “ said the Evening Standard and the Mirror rather more calmly.

And more recently the Sunday Times shifted gear from gifts to worries about festive food, with “EU ruling gobbles up Christmas dinner”.

Caught in the headlights are European rules (under Directive 2003/59) setting common minimum standards – the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) – for all professional HGV drivers in Europe …

Measures to cut lethal emissions from shipping are based on global consensus, not “an EU diktat”

December 8, 2014

New EU rules (The Sulphur Directive) to limit sulphur emissions from shipping are based on a global decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) supported and partly instigated by the UK.

A 2011 scientific study concludes that pollution from shipping causes 50 000 premature deaths a year, as well as contributing substantially to climate change and to other environmental hazards such as acid rain.

Cutting maritime sulphur emissions will not only prevent premature deaths. According to the above study and others, as well as the Commission’s impact assessment, the positive effect on the environment and on health spending will benefit the overall economy by between five and 25 times the costs.

We agree that this is a theme of significant public interest worthy of media attention and that newspapers are absolutely entitled to point to cost issues for shipping operators and for users.

But in its report on 2 December alleging that …

Agriculture myths: cropping the facts on the “three crop rule”

November 19, 2014

James Forsyth’s claims in the Daily Mail on 9 November that Environment Secretary Liz Truss wants to stop the European Commission from “telling British farmers what they can grow ” through “a Commission edict – the three crop rule”.

This is puzzling on at least two counts.

First, the European Commission cannot issue “edicts” but only propose new EU legislation. It is elected MEPs and elected EU government ministers who scrutinise these proposals and ultimately decide whether to amend, adopt or reject them.
Second, the UK voted last December for the very measure Mr Forsyth is writing about.

The “three crop rule” – or in other words crop diversification – was adopted unanimously by EU agricultural ministers in December 2013 as part of the latest package of CAP reforms.

The reforms address environmental concerns related to pressures that modern farming has put on water, soil, farmland habitats and related biodiversity, as well as contributing …

EU funds do not favour bullfighting

November 19, 2014

It appears the press are just as keen on recycling as the Commission. The claim that British taxpayers are subsidising bullfighting in Spain was published in The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror recently, some 18 months after a strangely similar story appeared in The Daily Telegraph in May 2013.

Since the 2003 reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, payments to farmers have been “decoupled” from production, which means payments are no longer linked to what and how much farmers produce, but granted per eligible hectare of land.

If there is no link to production, then by definition there is no subsidy for using the land to produce a specific type of animal for any specific purpose.

It is true that as long as national law permits it – and the EU has no legal powers to intervene in this – there is nothing to stop Spanish farmers raising and selling …

Mail on Sunday fails to serve readers full facts on EU food allergen rules that could save lives

November 11, 2014

New rules being introduced across the EU from 13 December 2014 (by the Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011) will give allergy sufferers eating out the same information and protection as when they shop in the supermarket. The aim is to prevent avoidable distress and in extreme cases save lives.

Millions of British allergy-sufferers – and their relatives and friends – will be able to be even more confident that it is safe for them to eat out. That is also in the commercial interest of establishments serving food.

Yet according to the Mail on Sunday, these rules on food allergens will cost British restaurants millions of pounds which in turn will be passed on to – “UK diners” who will “face £200m for EU allergy rules”. The claim follows a September article in The Sun which put the cost even higher at £375m for introducing the same EU Regulation.

All of …

The EU budget and UK contributions – the facts, 2013

November 3, 2014

Once again we are seeing big bold headlines claiming massive increase in the UK’s contribution to the EU budget in 2013. We provide figures and explanations below, but first a reminder of some general points that put these figures in context:
Traditionally, the UK net contributions to the EU budget are less than 1% of UK’s public spending.
While all bigger and richer member states are net contributors, as a contribution per capita the UK is behind countries like Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands or Austria, Finland and Belgium.
Finally, the estimated benefits of EU membership for the UK economy vastly exceed the UK’s gross budget contribution, let alone its net one. You don’t have to take our word for it – the CBI estimates the direct net economic benefits alone at between £62bn and £78bn every year


Back to 2013 – the most up-to-date figures available. The best estimate (there are several …

Udder nonsense that EU is forcing cows to wear nappies

October 10, 2014

The Daily Mail’s headline found the perfect punning phrase: it is indeed “udder nonsense” that EU rules ban cows from defecating on Alpine slopes.

A German farmer has fitted his cows with bovine diapers because, he says, cowpats constitute a fertiliser high in nitrates and are therefore outlawed by barmy Brussels bureaucrats.

He has shown an admirable flair for poo-blicity – but suggesting there are EU rules that ban cows from hillsides or from leaving their usual deposits is a load of bull.

This is pretty obvious when you think about it: hikers enjoying an autumn walk in the Alpine foothills will come across more cud-chewing cows than they can count, with their rear ends as naked as nature intended, except on one farm where cattle with bedsheets tied round their bottoms seem to have been fighting for grazing room with photographers.

Of course, the British media herd has stampeded all over …

Brussels targets air pollution – NOT British lawns

September 30, 2014

After last month’s media misrepresentation of EU rules designed to improve – not diminish – the suction performance of vacuum cleaners (see earlier blog), the latest (Now Brussels targets your lawnmower, Daily Mail) suggests “Brussels” is targeting lawnmowers.

It is true that the European Commission has put forward new emission reduction measures for combustion (petrol and diesel) engines used in non-road mobile machinery, which will only take affect if national Ministers and MEPS approve them.

But any idea that this is some kind of assault on British freedom to cut the lawn on a Sunday afternoon needs kicking into the long grass.

Lawn mowers are a small part of the overall picture. New engines for huge machinery like railway locomotives, excavators, cranes and combine harvesters, as well as smaller equipment, will also be covered by the proposed updates to existing EU rules (Directive 97/68/EC).

The result will be major cuts …