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‘New map of Britain that makes Kent part of France’
“For centuries the people of Kent have called their county the Garden of England. So they might find it quite a surprise that – according to the European Union at least – they are actually part of France. Along with next-door Sussex, Kent has been rolled in with the Calais areas on a map drawn up for Brussels.”
(Daily Mail, 4 September 2006, p.10)
‘New EU map makes Kent part of same ‘nation’ as France’
(Sunday Telegraph, 3 September 2006, p.9 September 2006, p.9))
‘Brussels plot to wipe Britain off the map’
(The Express on Sunday, 3 September 2006, p.10)
‘Wolf at door’
(The Sun, 4 September 2006, p.6)
The EU is not planning to “wipe Britain off the map”. The proposed spatial information database the press articles refer to would support environmental protection in the EU, not redraw the map of Europe.
The planned database would improve European capability to protect biodiversity, fight pollution and prevent floods and fires. There is a clear need for a common EU approach in this field.
More on some specific claims:
“Brussels is to be given powers to harmonise and control all ‘spatial data’”
INSPIRE is not about harmonisation and certainly not about “control”.
It aims to increase the accessibility of spatial data that can be important for environmental policy, and to increase the interoperability of spatial data systems across the EU.
Subject to certain exceptions (such as personal data, commercial confidentiality, national defence, public security etc), the public – and also European institutions – should also have access to data held by public authorities. The aim is thus to create a rather open system of data exchange that allows maximum use to be made of data for policy purposes.
“European database of people’s homes”
It is true that Annex II includes location of properties based on address identifiers.
This is not particularly unusual. British readers might be interested to know, for example, that Ordnance Survey holds data that is detailed enough to show windows on houses. It is already possible to locate streets and houses on the internet using a person’s postcode.
Crucially, INSPIRE will not include any information concerning who owns what: only data concerning the properties themselves.
Furthermore, INSPIRE does not require the collection of any data that doesn’t already exist. It merely sets some rules concerning data that is already held by public authorities.
Such information can indeed be important for a number of policies such as flood risk.
“This could be the first steps in imposing an EU-wide property tax.”
The directive has been drafted for the purpose of supporting primarily environmental policies. There is absolutely no link with any intention to introduce new EU taxes. Obviously, any such move would in any case be subject to national veto.
Some further background:
The EU member states and the Parliament will have to agree on the proposal.