The Sun on Sunday likes to print an anti-EU story most weeks. This week it has picked up on the European Commission’s proposed economic policy recommendations for the UK, issued on 29 May – so not exactly breaking news and certainly not an “exclusive” as it was labelled, given that many other media have written about the recommendations.
Here is the story, headlined “Euro VAT prats”.
And here is the response we sent to the Sun’s website at about 9h30 on Sunday. We received an automatic acknowledgment, though our response does not seem to have appeared.
“First, these are recommendations, not demands.
Second although this is deliberately omitted from the article with its childish headline, they include many things the Sun loudly supports, like increasing incentives to come off benefits and get into work.
As the piece does mention, improving the UK’s childcare and transport are also crucial to jobs and this has to be paid for somehow at a time of massive debt.
Thirdly, the recommendation does not say that ALL lower VAT rates should be removed.
Fourth, independent UK analysts have said broadening the base for VAT could raise £3bn even allowing for measures to help the poorest, which the EC also recommends – so this could move the burden of the debt from poor to rich, which the Sun also usually supports.
All in all this article does not paint a full or fair picture, which is no surprise in tabloid coverage of the EU.”
We should perhaps have added that these Commission recommendations will now be discussed, perhaps amended, and then agreed by all EU heads of state and government, including the UK Prime Minister. There will be a full debate on the recommendations for all countries at the next EU summit on 27-28 June. So far from being some kind of Brussels “demand”, these recommendations are input into a debate where the UK has a strong voice. And – as we told the Sun, but they did not tell readers – they are not binding on the UK even at that stage.