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Archive for ‘Letters to Editors’

No ban on cow gut violin strings and no massive ‘green’ burden for UK taxpayers

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Mail, sent on 29th November 2011

Dear Sir

There is and will be no EU ban on cow gut violin strings. (Bach-ing mad, 28 Nov). Gut from the EU and elsewhere can be used. There are restrictions on bovine intestines from countries whose anti-BSE safeguards are not recognised as adequate. This is to protect against a fatal disease. EU law allows exemptions for non-food use. Hard to see what is “mad” about that.

You also say the European Commission wants UK taxpayers to pay “tens of billions of pounds a year” to make buildings “greener”. First, the extra cost is under £5 billion a year – for the whole EU. Second, such investments create jobs and pay for themselves through energy savings. Third, all EU Member States – including the UK – agree energy efficiency is a top priority. They – not “Brussels” – will decide on these proposals.

Many thanks

Mark English

Head of Media
European Commission Office in London

A similar letter was sent to the Daily Telegraph

Times gets it wrong: Cameron not told to “choose between the EU and the City”.

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Letter to the Editor published in the Times on 25 November 2011

Sir, Your front page story “Cameron told to choose between the EU and the City” (November, 24) misrepresents the views of President Barroso and the European Commission.

President Barroso has repeatedly called for strong financial centres in Europe, including in the City of London. President Barroso did not say to Prime Minister Cameron that he must choose between protecting the City of London and influence in the European Union.

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen
Spokeswoman of the European Commission

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Mail regarding today’s EU stories

Friday, November 11th, 2011

“After Fifa poppy fiasco, the latest bright idea from Brussels? EU flag on England shirts” Daily Mail, 11 November 2011

“How Brussels blew £3.7bn of taxpayers’ cash on energy, agriculture and transport”
Daily Mail, 11 November 2011

Dear Sir

Some clarifications on EU stories. First, there are not and never will be measures “stipulating” that sports teams should wear the EU flag or that Wembley or Lords should fly it. Second, the EU Court of Auditors report did not say “Brussels squandered £3.7 billion”. It said 96% of EU spending was free from error and that 90% of errors were made at national level – including in the UK – not by “Brussels”. Furthermore, the European Commission vigorously claws back mis-spent money. And many errors were procedural and concern otherwise succesful projects. So this is a serious matter but does not mean £3.7 billion was wasted.

Mark English
Head of Media, European Commission Office in London

Letter to the Financial Times on Brussels strikes right balance on bank rules

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Sir, Your editorial “Blocking the way to bank stability” (August 3), on the European Union’s proposed implementation of Basel III rules to strengthen banks’ capital, seems to be based more on speculation than a close reading of the text.

We are not watering down the definition of capital. The Basel criteria are included in our legislative proposal. We await similar action by other jurisdictions.

The so-called “flexibility” for countries to increase capital requirements above Basel levels is not a matter of interpretation. Our proposals make clear how member states can increase minimum capital requirements to cope with their own specific situations. This is not an option either: those who are faced with higher risks must act to mitigate them. The only thing a national regulator cannot do is to increase capital requirements across the board for all its banks without informing its peers in the EU of the macroeconomic or financial stability reasons for doing so. There is not one situation in which a national supervisor cannot take action and address all the specific risks in a particular bank or in several banks under its supervision.

The UK – and the FT – have championed a single EU market in financial services for many years. So has the European Commission. The leaders of all EU countries called in 2009 for a single rulebook so that banks could operate across borders without facing different rules in each country. That is the right way to restore financial stability and the competitiveness of the banking sector. The Commission believes it has struck the right balance between the single rule book and due consideration for specific national circumstances. It is now for the European parliament and the Council of Ministers to consider the proposals and legislate in the normal way.

Lax supervision by some of those now calling for more autonomy outside the EU framework contributed in no small measure to the financial crisis. If there is a power grab here, it is by people who want to take advantage of the crisis to undo Europe’s single market. They must not be allowed to succeed.

Jonathan Faull,

Director General, Internal Market and Services,

European Commission

Letter to Daily Express on EU symbol on national sport strips

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

A letter sent by the European Parliament office to the Daily Express in answer to their article about “Brussels” “forcing” national teams to wear the EU symbol. It is worth pointing out that the report being discussed today is looking at ways to respond to pan-European challenges such as in the fight against violence and racism in sport, doping, encouraging good governance in sport, and helping associations establish mechanisms for the collective selling of media rights to ensure adequate redistribution of revenues.

Your front page story today contains a number of very misleading statements and basic inaccuracies.
As we have already made clear to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, when it first published this story several days ago, “Brussels” is not forcing British teams to wear the EU flag now, nor is it remotely likely to do so ever.

A single Spanish MEP has at this stage floated a suggestion.
The report referred to by both the Daily Telegraph and your publication  will not be voted on by the committee today, this week or next – this is scheduled for  October – and it is unlikely to be voted on by the European Parliament as a whole till November at least.
It can be amended at every stage of the process, making it possible for MEPs to oppose the suggestion that players should wear the EU flag on their shirts.
Even if the whole Parliament ended up endorsing the report in its entirety this would simply constitute the basis for a request to the European Commission to come up with a legislative proposal which would then have to be agreed by EU ministers as well as MEPs.
Best regards,
Paola Buonadonna
Press Attachée

European Parliament Information Office in the United Kingdom

EU rules do not threaten pets and strays

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The following letter has been sent to the Sunday Express, after a story claiming that EU rules would allow experiments on pets and stray animals.

Your front-page on EU plans to use pets in scientific experiments is nonsense. The pets of Britain are safe from scientific experiments. EU rules state that only animals specifically bred for research can be used. Only where the research specifically relates to stray animals (say, into illnesses that could be passed to children after contact with strays) can an exception be made.

Response to Daily Express article ‘Our men in Fiji on 3 million a year’

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011


Your article ‘Our men in Fiji on 3 million a year’ is misleading and simplistic.

The European Union does have a delegation in Fiji, but this covers the entire south pacific region.

It carries out countless development projects on behalf of the EU as well as foreign relations and political work.
Comparing the number of staff with our office in London is completely ridiculous as that has a completely different purpose and works with just one country.

The idea that our people there are living the life of Riley is frankly insulting. They work hard in a region which has more than its fair share of problems.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Mann,
Spokesman for Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs,

Spokesperson for EU High Representative Ashton corrects the Daily Mail

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Published 12th May, 2011

EU Confusion
Neither EU High Representative Baroness Ashton nor the EU is asking for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Last week in New York, the High Representative negotiated the possibility for the EU to speak in the UN General Assembly – that is all.

Michael Mann, Spokesman for Catherine Ashton.

Response to Daily Express article ‘EU time limit forces up cost of mobile phones’, 11th May 2011

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

The new EU rules are all about giving consumers more and better choice of mobile phone services. As of 25th May, under EU law, consumers have the option to sign-up for a long-term contract (maximum initial duration of 24 months), and take advantage of interesting offers like free or subsidised handsets, or they must be also able to opt for a shorter 12-month contract which makes it easier to switch to a different operator if they find a better deal.

In fact we’re already seeing a wider range of choice – for example the USwitch website says there are now 4765 12 month deals available on the market now compared to just 279 in February 2011. Wider choice, means more competition and better prices and service for customers. This is partly thanks to the push from the EU and OFCOM for more a more competition in the telecoms sector.

UK consumer prices for mobile phone serviceshave fallen by at least around 50% since 2002 thanks to increased competition as a result of EU rules. If you send 30 text messages and spend 25 minutes talking on your mobile each month – you paid on average £10 a month in 2010 compared to £19.25 in 2002. Bigger talkers and texters, sending 42 texts and chatting for two and a half hours every month, paid on average £45.69 in 2002 compared to £12.50 in 2010.

Letter sent to The Daily Mail re article ‘Why you could lose if there’s another ash cloud’, 4 May 2011

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

It is not “European bureaucrats” who will make decisions on changes to compensation for travel delays or any other aspect of the air passenger rights legislation. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has announced a review and will make proposals after a public consultation, but any changes will be made by the European Parliament and the Council, of which the UK government is a member.

If your readers have strong views on these passenger rights, they should take part in the consultation when it is launched and get in touch with their MP and MEP, so they can be represented in the discussions on the legislation next year.

Jonathan Scheele, Head of European Commission Representation in the UK

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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