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EU is not “hijacking Remembrance Sunday”

October 28th, 2010

This letter was sent to the Daily Telegraph today, in response to their article repeating accusations that the EU is trying to “hijack” Remembrance Sunday.

You claim that the EU wants to ‘hijack’ Remembrance Sunday with a plan to put euro-branded commemorative plaques marking “European integration” on war cemeteries and memorials in the UK (27 October). This is nonsense and a serious distortion of the facts, which were explained in some detail to your correspondent.

The facts are that the UK government and other Member States asked the European Commission to come forward with an initiative for a ‘European Heritage Label’, which will mark sites which have an important place in European history and European integration.

Under our proposal, which was backed by the European Parliament this week, it will be up to national governments to nominate sites for the award, if they want to. The sites might include places of remembrance. An independent expert panel will assess the nominations it receives from national governments and decide which of them merits the heritage label.

If the panel receives no nominations from the UK, no sites in the UK would display the European Heritage Label.

The EU cannot unilaterally impose the heritage label on anyone.

We believe the scheme will raise international awareness of heritage sites all over Europe and that the cost of the initiative will be far outweighed by the economic benefits it will bring for the sites themselves, for job creation and for local businesses in terms of increased tourism.
To suggest that the EU wants to ‘hijack’ Remembrance Sunday is frankly outrageous. It dishonours the newspaper to write such rubbish and, more importantly, it dishonours those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom we take for granted today.
Dennis Abbott
Captain (Retd), Royal Signals
European Commission Spokesperson for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth


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