June 17, 2013
The Sunday Express would have its readers believe there has been a seismic land movement on the Continent. On Sunday they reported the price of Britain’s traditional Sunday roast could rise as a result of “plans in Brussels”. Perplexing conclusion as they reveal that, in fact, it is Sweden’s Board of Agriculture that has called for an EU-wide tax on meat as a way of helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions from food production.
May 31, 2013
Reports in the media that the European Commission is forcing the UK Government to hand welfare benefits to EU immigrants as soon as they arrive in the UK are wrong.
We made the point several months ago on this blog – February 2013
It is a myth that EU law means that EU migrants are automatically entitled to claim benefits in the UK or another Member State from the moment they step off the plane, train or ferry. In fact, EU rules require migrants to meet stringent requirements before they can be eligible either for means tested “social assistance” benefits like housing benefit and income support or for social security benefits like child benefit, invalidity benefit or contribution-based Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Likewise, the Commission is not involved in a “power grab”.
The Commission is legally obliged under EU treaties and rules to ensure that all member states abide by the EU laws they …
May 22, 2013
Contrary to the headline in the online edition of The Times - ”EU could reinstate British cattle export ban” (22 May 2013) - how the UK combats bovine TB in badgers is a matter for the UK.
Different member states have different approaches as husbandry practice, including cattle movement patterns, differ substantially from region to region.
What is important is that this disease is effectively tackled, for obvious human health, animal health and welfare and economic reasons.
This is an EU-wide matter as this is a health issue and cattle, dairy products and beef are traded across borders.
There is currently no effective vaccine for cattle and therefore any vaccination for TB is illegal.
So it is true that the EC would like to see the UK and other member states with above average figures for bovine TB reduce the incidence of disease.
But there are no plans to impose specific restrictions on the movement of UK cattle and products, as current …
April 17, 2013
Claims in the Sunday Telegraph on 14 April that the EU is “pouring millions into groups seeking state control of the press” and “seeking new national and Europe-wide regulatory powers over journalists”, are highly misleading. The Daily Mail’s suggestion the following day that “Brussels” is backing six initiatives to “increase its powers over the media” is equally wrong.
These articles make wild and inaccurate claims about the European Commission’s actions and motives. The Commission was not asked for a comment before publication. The comment in the Sunday Telegraph piece from a Commission spokesperson is an old one taken out of context.
In a nutshell
- - The EU supports media freedom, not state control of the press, and has shown this by its actions.
- – There is no question of the European Commission seeking “regulatory powers over journalists”.
- – Any regulation of media content is for individual Member States, provided that …
March 13, 2013
Stories in the Telegraph and Mail among others are not correct. The UK cannot be “forced” to hold the 2014 European elections on Sundays. The European Commission has issued a non-binding recommendation that Member States should agree on a single day for the European elections. But it has no powers to -and does not want to- force anyone to do this. Neither can anyone “require” – as the Mail puts it – UK political parties to support a candidate for the European Commission Presidency. Though many people across Europe do feel that having a candidate from each of the political grouping standing at the elections would enhance the democratic process at EU level and that it could increase turnout.
February 22, 2013
On Monday 18 February, the Sun published this article which it chose not to include on its website. It provides an interesting and not untypical case study in the way certain media – and far from only the Sun – tend to deal with EU stories.
£3bn for bananas
“BRUSSELS is handing out BILLIONS to banana, tobacco and rum industries on paradise isles, it was revealed yesterday.
Nearly £3.5 billion of taxpayers’ cash has been used to subsidise farmers in the EU’s “outermost” regions like the Azores and the Canaries.
And the spending is set to rise by over £50 million to £625 million a year.
Pressure group Get Britain Out said many of the islands had a higher standard of living than some big EU countries.
The Canary Islands’ average income is £16,200 per head, while the figure in Poland is £13, 530.”
The article followed the European Parliament’s vote on 5 February to increase by about …
February 18, 2013
There are three recurring myths about EU rules on migration and benefits.
First, it is a myth that EU law gives all EU citizens an unconditional right to reside freely in the UK or another Member State. In reality, this right is subject to important restrictions.
Second, it is a myth that EU law means that EU migrants are automatically entitled to claim benefits in the UK or another Member State. In fact, EU rules require migrants to meet stringent requirements before they can be eligible either for means tested “social assistance” benefits like housing benefit and income support or for social security benefits like child benefit, invalidity benefit or contribution-based Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The third, linked, myth is that EU rules somehow encourage so-called benefit tourism. In fact, the rules are designed to prevent “benefit tourism”.
There is no evidence that the UK …
February 4, 2013
Despite alarmist stories in the Sunday Telegraph no EU institution has proposed to reinstate tobacco subsidies. EU law is proposed by the European Commission. It did NOT propose to reinstate subsidies in its proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. Those proposals are decided upon and amended by elected MEPs(72 from UK) in the European Parliament plenary – who have yet to vote – and by 27 national Ministers in the EU Council, whose votes are weighted according to population size, in other words the UK has a lot more votes than Bulgaria. In order for an amendment to pass it needs a simple majority in the Parliament plenary and a qualified (i.e in practice very large) majority of Ministers. There no indication at the moment of such a majority in favour of tobacco subsidies.
EU subsidies for tobacco growing were phased-out at the end of 2010 and farmers now …
December 21, 2012
Seems it is the season to be jolly cavalier with the facts over EU stories, so we are posting this composite five-part myth-buster correcting misleading stories about films, cars, I-pods, insurance and pensions. There is perhaps merit in asking the question: how can there be a serious debate in the UK about EU issues amid this cacophony of misinformation?
First, the Sun claimed on Sunday 16 December that the EU was demanding £1.5 billion to subsidise “boring European films”. In fact, The King’s Speech, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy and The Woman in Black are just some of the non-boring and very British films supported with EU funding and – partly as a direct result of that – enjoyed by many film-goers around the world, thus bringing in cash to the UK.
The funding is mostly agreed before the film is released – when it’s far from clear that a particular film …
November 15, 2012
It is true that the European Commission is looking at possible changes to the regulatory framework governing some ingredients used in fragrances.
But this is not about bureaucrats handing down rules or banning perfumes, as some media have reported. It is about properly looking into scientific evidence. A committee of senior scientists from all Member States have advocated some additional labelling requirements and some lower concentration limits for some ingredients. They have also concluded that three specific ingredients amongst the very large number used in fragrances must be closely looked at. The European Commission is now legally obliged to consult all stakeholders – including consumer organisations and the cosmetic industry – on whether and how this should be reflected in updated rules, to protect consumers properly while minimising burdens on industry. Any additional regulatory measures – and we are a long way from that – would only follow a full public …