Archive for ’Euromyths’
November 1, 2013
If you believed some press this week, Brussels bureaucrats have been busy destroying the great British breakfast by cutting the minimum sugar content in jam from 60% to 50%….. “EU threatens future of British jam”, “British jam is toast – EU sugar rule row”, “EU rules will ruin jam with our cream tea”.
Yet according to some newspapers at the end of March…. EU red tape had allegedly been strangling plucky British jam producers by… NOT allowing them to cut the sugar content in jam from 60% to 50%.
So were they right seven months ago, or are they right now?
In fact EU law – not handed down from Brussels but agreed by the UK government with other Member States – always gave the UK flexibility to cut the minimum sugar content in jam to 50%.
Seven months ago, the government had not yet chosen to use that flexibility. Now, after …
October 20, 2013
The Sunday Telegraph on 20 October runs a follow up to its coverage on 13 October of a detailed European Commission report, which concluded that there is no evidence of systematic or widespread benefit tourism by EU nationals migrating within the EU, including to the UK.
This coverage is highly critical of the Commission report and calls into doubt its conclusions. But in all its thousands of words, the Sunday Telegraph at no stage provides any concrete quantitative evidence to contradict those conclusions and those of other reports – including for example by the OECD and the the Centre for European Reform – which have concluded broadly the same.
Unfortunately, the newspaper bases much of its coverage on factually incorrect assertions and on the omission of salient facts. This merits further detailed analysis.
The newspaper’s earlier coverage falsely claimed there are over 600 000 unemployed EU migrants in the UK. …
October 14, 2013
Based on a contentious Business for Britain (BfB) report, a wide range of media reported on 14 October that there have been 3,600 new laws in three years as the EU “strangles” UK firms and that it would take 92 days to read all the regulations.
All this needs to be seen in perspective. Of course, even if it is true that it would take three months to read these regulations – which is a striking if debatable statistic – it is of limited relevance as no-one could possibly need to undertake such a task. Rules on type approval for lorries are of doubtful interest to a financial services company. Soft toy manufacturers do not need to read rules on sheep farming.
Second, the BfB report contains a series of factual errors, wrongly claiming for example that the EU is seeking to impose laws banning high heels for hairdressers, UK flags on …
October 14, 2013
The Sunday Telegraph reported on 13 October that a European Commission report published today would say that “600,000 unemployed European Union migrants are living in Britain at a cost of £1.5 billion to the NHS alone”.
This – as a Commission spokesperson has said to a press conference in Brussels – is “a gross and totally irresponsible misrepresentation of the facts”.
What the report really says, among other things, is the following.
The 600 000 figure refers to non-active migrants, a category which includes as well as job seekers, older schoolchildren, students, retired people, people taking time out of the labour market to bring up children and other direct family members.
As a comparison, 43 % of the UK population aged between 15 and 64 – so at a conservative estimate 12 million people – is classified as non-active. Clearly no –one would seriously claim that there were 12 million unemployed …
September 30, 2013
According to the Daily Express on 28 September, the EU is “demanding £6billion from Britain for a new bailout”. The Express is referring to the EU’s Balance of Payments Facility – which exists to provide emergency support to non-eurozone EU Member States whose economies are threatened by major financial imbalances.
The facts are rather different. Not one penny of UK taxpayers money has been sent – even as a loan – to the countries supported so far under the facility: Latvia, Hungary and Romania.
There are no plans to support more countries.
The money for any such loans is raised by the EU in the financial markets at very favourable interest rates and the cost of that is covered by repayments from beneficiary countries. Member States merely guarantee the borrowing in the financial markets.
No such loans can be made, guarantees issued, or changes made to the facility, without the unanimous agreement of …
September 30, 2013
The Daily Express reports today under the headline ‘Now EU “Crackpots” demand gypsy MPs’ that, if a resolution from the European Parliament becomes law “all the political parties in the UK will have to impose female gypsy candidates on the electorate and get them into Parliament.”
This story is ludicrous. First and foremost – and leaving aside the questionable terminology used by the Express – the EU only has the powers delegated to it by the Member States in unanimously agreed Treaties. Those powers do not include the power to intervene in how candidates for national elections are nominated. So it is quite simply impossible that the EU could pass such a law.
The story has been described by an MEP in a letter sent to the Express as “fabricated from beginning to end.”
The agreed European Framework for Roma inclusion looks into ways of helping integrate traveller communities into education, employment, …
September 17, 2013
Despite a series of incorrect media reports – among them pieces in the Mail on Sunday and the Express – not one British blooming plant, let alone thousands, will be “banned” from garden centres as a result of Commission proposals to improve EU rules and to cut – not increase – red tape.
First, the EC proposal stipulates that “ornamental plants” (garden flowers) will no longer be covered by most of the rules on “plant reproductive material” laid down in existing EU rules. Plant reproductive material includes, for example, seeds, shoots, vegetables, etc.
So the newspapers have got it completely the wrong way round. The Commission is proposing to remove regulations from garden plants, not impose new ones.
Garden plants will in future –if the Commission’s proposal is agreed by national Ministers and the European Parliament – only need to comply with some general rules, rather than the …
September 17, 2013
Media reports of an EU plan to ban the Union Flag from British meat products are not true.
As explained to The Daily Express before it published today’s article - similar ones have also appeared in the Mail and Telegraph,which did not even contact us – European Commission proposals on the labelling of pre-packaged fresh meat (from sheep, goats, poultry and pigs) will not prevent the use of the Union Jack or of other EU Member State flags. Neither will they prevent the use of additional geographical labels such as Welsh or Scottish. Private logos such as the Red Tractor logo will still be permitted, too.
The Commission is looking to introduce clearer labelling of Member State origin. That will make sure that when customers buy meat labelled as British they know it really is British and not, for example, just imported for slaughter. This will be done without placing unnecessary burdens on producers and …
September 5, 2013
Every year the summer, with its frequent famine of real political news, brings a glut of stories attacking the EU for things it has not done. Sometimes the seeds are sown by briefings emerging from government departments, sometimes by alert lobbyists spotting a chance and sometimes they feature recycled material emerging organically from newspapers IT archives.
This summer was a fertile one.
Here is a top ten, many of which have already featured on this blog.
10/ The Express got the summer off to a Nordic-style early start in June by claiming that “plans in Brussels” would mean traditional Brits would pay more for their Sunday roast beef. This was about proposals for a meat tax from…..the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
9/ The supposed ban on Milk of Magnesia reported in July never existed. And even if it had, it would not have been an “EU ban”, as the EU is not …
September 1, 2013
Reports in the press over the last day or two have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls -known as “Intelligent Speed Adaptation” or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.
The Mail on Sunday for example (the only one of these articles online with no paywall), uses a quote from a Commission spokesman but chooses to leave out the first and most important sentence given to the paper’s reporter, which was this:
“The Commission has not tabled – and does not have in the pipeline – even a non-binding Recommendation, let alone anything more.”
The Daily Mail on Monday 2 September had the integrity to include this quote, but only at the end of an article confirming the incorrect slant that the Commission was …