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Archive for ‘Euromyths’

EU state aid rules do not slow down urban broadband

Friday, May 20th, 2016
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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

In an article “EU red tape leaves urban homes in internet slow lane” published on 18 May, the Daily Telegraph slams EU “red tape” for hampering UK Government efforts to rollout high-speed broadband in urban areas that don’t have it yet. The article implies that EU state aid rules prevent public subsidies for such rollout.

This is untrue.

In fact, the European Commission’s 2013 Broadband Guidelines for state aid explain how state aid rules apply to the rollout of fast broadband and how investment can be made more quickly.

In 2012 the Commission approved the previous National Broadband Scheme for the UK for rural areas . In May 2016 the Commission endorsed the new UK broadband scheme for 2016-2020 within a month of its notification by the UK authorities.

Many public measures, including investments by the state in broadband projects, are exempted from state aid rules and can be implemented immediately because they do not distort competition. Where state aid is involved, the purpose of EU rules is to ensure that private investment is not crowded out by public money. In other words, the whole idea is to have more choice and more investment, not less. The Telegraph article itself quotes the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) saying that they are working with the industry to drive commercial investment in urban areas, so as to focus public financing on rural areas, where there is less private appetite.

Contrary to what the article suggests, the rollout of high-speed broadband across Europe is one of the European Commission’s priorities under the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, an overarching effort to make the EU fit for the digital age. It is up to the UK – and each individual member state – to decide where and how to invest in top-speed connectivity. Currently, with 91% of households covered by high-speed broadband (at least 30 Mbps), the UK is well above the EU average (71%) (see Digital Economy and Society Index, DESI).

So EU state aid rules help rather than hamper the rollout of high-speed broadband.

What is more, the EU actually funds – from its so-called structural funds – broadband rollout in remote areas. One case in point is Superfast Cornwall – so far the largest single European investment in broadband and which was supported with €65.5 million (roughly £50 million*) from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) out of a total €93.1 million (roughly £71 million*). It now covers 95% of premises and a successor programme is in the pipeline.

* Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

EU funding is supporting – not stopping – regeneration of Nottingham’s Sneinton market

Friday, May 13th, 2016
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Rating: 4.0/5 (5 votes cast)

Articles in the Daily Mail, The Sun and Nottingham Post this week are inaccurate in suggesting that the refurbished Sneinton Market in Nottingham, which benefitted from EU funds, only has three traders out of 46 because of “EU rules restricting the stalls from having tills”.

The facts

The rules for the current use of the units were not imposed by the EU.

There are no EU rules which prevent the use of tills on market stalls, either in general or in projects receiving EU funding.

The 46 units in question in Nottingham are not retail market stalls and were not even before the refurbishment.

In fact, they are former wholesale units that will now provide workspace and studios for creative SMEs.

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EU will not and could not impose congestion charges on drivers or bin collection fees on householders

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
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Rating: 4.7/5 (13 votes cast)

Readers could be forgiven for thinking that 1st April – like the Spring daffodils – had arrived early this year with a splash by the Sunday Express – “EU declares war on drivers: UK motorists should pay congestion charge to drive in every town say Brussels climate change meddlers“. The so-called “exclusive” was the catalyst for other similarly misleading headlines and distortions of the facts in The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Scotsman.

The European Union has no power to force local authorities to implement congestion charges or bin collection fees.

Both remain a matter for national and regional authorities. The European Union only has the powers delegated to it by Member States in the EU Treaties.

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EU development aid saves lives – and strong safeguards protect against financial risk

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
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Rating: 3.9/5 (11 votes cast)

Summary
EU development aid projects save lives in some of the world’s poorest and often war-torn countries. They inevitably involve some financial risk. But the vast majority of projects deliver good results. Recent press reports suggesting billions of pounds have been wasted and that “Brussels” is asking EU member states for extra cash to finance ongoing projects do not reflect the facts or the evidence.

How EU development aid works and what it does

EU development aid saves lives and makes a huge positive difference to many more. For example, it helps children get lifesaving healthcare in the poorest parts of the world. It gives tens of millions of people access to safe drinking water. Since 2004, more than 18 million children have been immunised against measles, 13.7 million new pupils joined primary education, and 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health personnel.

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Museum gun collections do not face “near destruction” under revised EU gun control laws

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015
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Rating: 3.6/5 (8 votes cast)

Claims that some of the UK’s most famous museums would have to destroy their historic gun collections as part of EU plans to tighten gun controls – “EU takes aim at museum gun collections” (Daily Telegraph, 18 December) – are way off target.

As part of efforts to prevent gun massacres by terrorists such as the tragic events in Paris and those by disturbed loners seen all too often in the US , the European Commission published proposals to further toughen up EU rules on the acquisition and possession of weapons (Firearms Directive).

Museums such as The Royal Armouries Museum and the National Army Museum were concerned that the new rules on permanently deactivating weapons might require  them to damage the antique workings of thousands of historic guns in case they fell into the wrong hands.

But the museums’ fears were misplaced. Museums run by public authorities continue to be exempt from these gun control laws. We could have told the Telegraph this if it had asked us.

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Daily Express’s “11 barmy EU rules” either do not exist or are rather sensible

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
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Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)

A pop-up on the Express web site, appearing for some time now via various pages featuring EU “news” and prominent in online searches, is headlined “Brussels’ craziest decisions.”

It cites “the top eleven unusual rules proposed by Brussels that seem too barmy to be true”.

That is because about half of these stories are simply not true. And the others are seriously misleading.

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EU officials cannot charge hotels and meals to corporate credit cards

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
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Rating: 2.6/5 (8 votes cast)

The Daily Telegraph said on 17 August that EU officials “spent more than £85 million in a year on specially issued credit cards to pay for meals and hotels…not including train and air travel costs”.

Some clarifications are called for.

First, EU staff cannot charge a penny or a euro cent to a corporate credit card linked to a corporate bank account.

The European Institutions, unlike many organisations, do not allow this.

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Press reports on First EURES Job mobility scheme conflate support for young unemployed Europeans with the Calais situation and do not reflect reality

Friday, August 7th, 2015
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Rating: 3.0/5 (6 votes cast)

The Daily Telegraph (EU pays jobless migrants to come to Britain, 3 August) and the Daily Express (Now the European Union pays jobless migrants THOUSANDS to claim jobs in Britain, 4 August) report that one third of the young migrants participating in the EU pilot scheme Your First EURES Job were placed in the UK.

Your First EURES Job mobility scheme supports young people aged between 18 and 35 to find a suitable job, traineeship or apprenticeship within the EU. Financial support is only provided if the job-seeker is short-listed for a vacancy and has been invited for an interview. If the candidate is recruited, only limited further support is provided to cover part of the travel and subsistence cost. It is about helping young unemployed people who want to work hard to do so, not encouraging “jobless migrants” to come to Britain or any other country.

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The European Development Fund offers aid to the poorest countries in forms that are most likely to deliver results for the local people

Friday, July 24th, 2015
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Rating: 3.5/5 (6 votes cast)

In a drive to have a go at the EU, on 20 July some UK newspapers (Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail) chose to ridicule circus artists and coconut production. The articles call funding for deprived communities in some of the poorest parts in the world “frivolous expenditure” and illustrate their point with photos of appealing beaches and young female acrobats in glittering outfits.

The European Development Fund (EDF), under which the quoted projects are funded, offers development assistance to the people and countries that need it most, in many cases affected by conflict and natural disaster like Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic or Haiti. More recently development aid of some GBP 85 million (Euro 121.6 million) was mobilised after the earthquake in Nepal. The EDF projects come in many forms depending on the community or country in question, what matters is that they bring results for local people.

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Daily Telegraph makes a meal of EU “embassies” buying crockery

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Rating: 2.9/5 (34 votes cast)

The Daily Telegraph published an article – later picked up by other media – on 18 July suggesting that the EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS) was “ordering a £2m dinner service fit for an emperor”. In fact it is launching a tender to supply all the crockery, cutlery and glasses, etc that all of its 140 “delegations” – equivalent to embassies – across the world will need for the next 4 years and doing so in the most economical way, with a flexible contract.

€3m is the absolute maximum that can be spent over four years, but only items actually needed and supplied will be paid for and the real amount spent is likely to be much less. The prices will be the normal rates for the kind of good quality but not extravagant materials that all diplomatic services would expect to use – for example around €10.50 (£7.50) for a plate, including all packing and transport charges

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EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

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