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No EU Plans to abolish Britain!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

“On St. George’s Day, say goodbye to England”
(Daily Telegraph, 23 April 2008)

“Up the Pole” – Revealed: EU’s secret plot to abolish Britain
(The Sun, 23 April 2008)

“How Brussels has wiped England and the English Channel off the map”
(Daily Mail, 23 April 2008)

Revealed: EU’s secret plot to ban Britain
(Daily Express, 23 April 2008)

These articles are utterly false and have no basis in reality. Here are the facts:

This has nothing to do with drawing up administrative borders, which is something the UK is deciding on

This is nothing new:

INTERREG (European Territorial Cooperation objective since 2007) which promotes cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation has existed since 1990 when the first Community Initiative was launched (INTERREG II : 1994-1999, INTERREG III 2000-2007)

In total UK participates in 4 cross-border, 4 transnational and in all the interregional (networking) programmes (see attached country fiche).

The only new programme the UK is participating in is the quadrilateral “2 Seas” cross-border cooperation programme involving FR, UK, BE, NL which has been created in 2007 because all coastal areas in the Channel area have become eligible for cross-border cooperation.

Neither of the two cross-border cooperation programmes across the English Channel are yet officially adopted. There are e.g. no official maps of the type shown.

There are some serious errors of fact:

There are absolutely no secret plans and no goal of creating a United States of Europe. The process has been entirely transparent and has involved local politicians of all parties.

There are no transnational regional assemblies.

The name of the programme across the English Channel between UK and France will feature in both languages.

The maps indicated in the articles have not been produced by the Commission/EU.

There are absolutely no provisions that projects have to fly the EU flag at least one week every year (this is for the managing authority only).

The articles are riddled with mis-representations, such as:

The Channel programme is not “ruled” by Lille. The joint managing authority (appointed by the participating partner countries) is located there and the programme is steered by a programme monitoring committee which includes an equal share of members from the participating countries.

Kent part of France

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

‘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.

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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