April 29, 2013
The Commission recently proposed limited changes to the way the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol works. The aim is to tackle cross-border crime – for example drug dealing and human trafficking – better.
Many would no doubt conclude that better police cooperation against such major criminal activities would be of major benefit to the UK. But if it does not agree, the UK can decide not to opt-in to the proposals given its general option under the Lisbon Treaty to remain outside EU justice measures.
Despite this, the Daily Mail turned the proposals into an article headlined “EU demands access to British police files”, suggesting that Europol was to be given extensive new powers over Member States and their police forces – not the case – and that it would be able to demand additional data on victims and witnesses. In fact the proposal would significantly increase protection …
December 18, 2012
On December 11th, The Daily Mail carried an article with misleading assertions about the deciding and spending of EU Development aid in Uganda and Mozambique.
Below is our letter to the editor.
In a recent article on development aid in Uganda and Mozambique, misleading assertions were made about EU development aid.
It is not the case that in Uganda the EU has built so many roads that the network is ‘well beyond the size and standard the country can afford to maintain”.
Less than 15% of the national road network in Uganda is paved and infrastructure is still poor. This kind of infrastructure enables a land-locked country of 33 million to develop.
The ICAI report on which the article is based is one of many evaluations of EU aid. The independent European Court of Auditors has rated EuropeAid highly.
Neither is it correct that the “UK Government has little control over how it (aid) is …
December 7, 2012
On November 22nd, The Daily Telegraph published an article “The battle to get Britain’s broadband through Brussels’ bureaucracy” in which assertions were made that a competition investigation by the European Commission was caused undue delay “thanks to European bureaucracy”.
The European Commissioner involved, Joaquín Almunia refutes the assertions made in the article and given that the journalist did not approach the Commission for comment in advance of publication, Mr Almunia sought a right to reply from The Daily Telegraph in the form of a letter to the letters page, which we submitted on November 23rd (as below). The Daily Telegraph finally published a shortened version of this on December 7th.
I refer to your article published on 22 November that implied a slow approval procedure by the European Commission of the Broadband UK (BDUK) scheme.
BDUK was notified to the Commission in January 2012 to check compliance with EU state aid …
November 12, 2012
On 12 November the Daily Express published a letter from Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud correcting their grossly misleading article (Nov, 7). Good to have our position reflected in the Daily Express –for a change, even though post-factum. Also interesting to show what of the Commissioner’s reply was left out.
Commissioner Šemeta’s letter:
“Auditors certified the accounts accurate for the fifth year running.
They said that 3.9% of EU-financed activity involving about £4 bn did not fully comply with all relevant rules. This is serious. But it does not mean the money was wasted or misspent. An “error” can be anything from a missing signature to a mistake in a tendering procedure. It does not mean fraud, which affects 0.2 % of the EU budget. Neither does it mean the mistakes were made by “Brussels”. The auditors blamed the Member States – who manage 80% of …
October 1, 2012
The complex issues of Europe Aid and Development funding have come in for a lot of headlines recently, not least in a Sunday Telegraph article (September 22nd, 2012) which claimed that middle income countries were benefiting from EU aid funds “intended to help the world’s poorest”. This is not the case.
Much of the funding referred to in the article comes under Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy – a different policy area than development aid, with different aims, separately agreed by Member States, including the UK, and the European Parliament.
A short letter is the only right of reply we have. It is a good thing that newspapers in general do at least offer this but it can do little to counter the impact of a full page article: especially when most newspapers will only publish the letter after negotiating the text, not only to shorten- which is fine, they are usually better …
August 7, 2012
(As published in FT 07/08/2012)
Let me set the record straight in response to Mr Hutton’s article “Brussels is set to create a pension disaster for Britain” (6 August): Yes, we need more occupational pension funds. No, the European Commission will not put occupational pensions at risk.
Throughout Europe, defined benefit schemes have suffered as a result of the financial crisis. This has led a number of employers in the United Kingdom and other countries to discontinue defined benefit schemes. This development reflects economic reality and has nothing to do with the planned review of the EU’s Pension Funds Directive, which dates from 2003.
The European Commission has not yet made any legislative proposals in this regard. What we have done so far is asked the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority to carry out a quantitative impact study in order to examine the potential costs and benefits of the introduction of a more risk-based …
August 3, 2012
On August 1st, The Daily Express published a front page article with the banner headline “Euro Rules to Ruin Pensions”. European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier wrote directly to The Express with clarifications of factual errors and assurances that the Commission would not undermine the national occupational pension system. The letter was published in the letters page of the Express on August 3rd.
I take issue with your article “Brussels threat to pension and jobs” (1 August). It contains a number of factual errors and misunderstandings.
As I have stated publicly on numerous occasions, the European Commission does not intend to copy the so-called Solvency 2-rules from the insurance sector to pension funds. Neither does the Commission intend to undermine or penalise national occupational pension systems by making them more expensive for employers.
What the Commission will do is review the current EU rules on pension funds which date from 2003, …
July 31, 2012
In The Daily Mail of July 24th, 2012, journalist Christopher Booker wrote an article titled “The real migrant scandal”, in which we found some serious inaccuracies. We wrote to The Daily Mail with a letter outlining the inaccuracies and providing clarifications with regard to Mr. Booker’s piece. Below is the letter we sent to The Daily Mail and below that is the version published. Notice any difference? The Daily Mail has decided to drop the crucial opening to the letter that addresses the specific article and journalist. The question here is how can The Daily Mail reader be truly informed of the inaccuracies or find relevance in clarifications when they are not given the context of the original article?
“Christopher Booker’s piece on immigration (24 July) requires multiple clarifications. First, the UK was not forced to allow migrants from new EU Member States to work here in 2004. EU rules …
May 21, 2012
Contrary to the article headlined “Brussels grabs UK welfare” (6 May), the proposed EU agreement with Turkey would create no new benefit rights for non-EU nationals.
The European Commission has no power and no desire to “seize control of the welfare system” or “force Britain to grant benefits to non-Europeans”.
The proposal would simplify the administration of existing rights – and could cut costs.
It would help the growing number of EU citizens who work in Turkey to receive the Turkish benefits – especially pensions – to which they contribute.
Nor is “Brussels planning to sign a deal without Britain’s consent”. The UK is fully involved in discussions in the Council of Ministers, which must approve the proposal.
European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
This letter was published in the Sunday Times on 20 May. The European Commission had made clear before publication of the article concerned that these suggestions were entirely …
April 5, 2012
Contrary to Paul Naish’s article in the Mail on 31 March, there is nothing in EU law that prevents the UK from checking the language skills of doctors and nurses from elsewhere in the EU. There is no “new Brussels Directive against language checks”. Instead, proposed revisions to EU rules will make even clearer that all EU-qualified health professionals can be subject to checks before they take up a post. Far from EU law “taking precedence” over the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans to reinforce such checks, the European Commission has welcomed those plans.
Mark English, Head of Media
European Commission Representation in the UK
This letter was published, slightly edited, in the Daily Mail on 5 April (p.83). The newspaper did not contact the European Commission before publication. Commissioner Michel Barnier had already exploded this Euromyth in January.