Myth: Britain is to be forced into changing its three pin plug to the continental two pin version, costing domestic users of electricity a fortune in rewiring and jeopardising the high safety standards in the UK.
(Daily Star, p.2, 27.5.94, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, 3.6.94, The Independent on Sunday, leader, 6.6.94)
Response: This is not the case. Cenelec – The European Committee for Electrotechnical standards, an independent organisation consisting of representatives from national standardisation bodies from some 18 European countries – is soon to vote on a common position from a number of proposals for standards across Europe. Plugs are but one part of this.
The European Commission welcomes the electrical industry’s initiative in this respect, as this kind of harmonisation is very much in the interests of the Single Market. However legislation at a European level, such as proposals for a Directive, need not be the end result. The European Commission can propose legislation to enforce Cenelec work, however Cenelec standards are usually adopted spontaneously by national standardisation bodies and the sectors concerned. This was the case when the common 230V current was introduced throughout Europe recently.
The Commission is keen to point out that the standard agreed by Cenelec would not force domestic users of electricity to replace their three pin plugs should a European norm ever be introduced. They could simply carry on using the same system as before. European legislation would not be retro-active. Any standard to be agreed upon would be specifically designed for use with an adaptor, should it be needed. According to calculations, the actual cost of any new plug would probably be less than half that of the current British plug.