Can I point out a few things?
1) The EU rules can regulate how things are put on the market, but not how they are used in the home. So they recommend supervision for use of balloons etc that children could choke on, but don’t ban children from using them.
2) 25000 British kids are taken to A&E every year after choking on something. I think doing something to try to reduce those numbers is to be commended.
3) The US has similar rules on toys that constitute a choking hazard.
4) There is no change in the rules – this requirement has existed since 1988.
What do eggs, flags, cornish pasties and nurses have in common? They are all stories we have been dealing with this summer that have to a greater or lesser extent been misrepresented in some quarters of the British press. At the same time we are clearing up, getting ready for the move to our new office in October. So there was many a wry smile in the office when this article arose from the archive:
Evening Standard on summer Euroscares (Needs to be rotated)
14 years on, nothing much has changed.
Sorry, meant to say, if you’re interested in looking more at this issue, we have a site where we put up our side of these stories and post letters we send to the papers, and that also has an archive of previous #Euromyths (in the right-hand column of the site).
On the day that Catalonia bans bullfighting, I just thought I would make clear that whatever you might have heard, the EU doesn’t subsidise bullfighting, either directly (which it never did) or indirectly (through subsidies for raising bulls). Farm payments are no longer linked to production, so farmers don’t get money for the bulls they raise, but for respecting standards such as environmental legislation.
I went to a very interesting event about science journalism in the UK last year at the Royal Institution which I blogged about about the time. One of my conclusions was that many of the issues faced by science journalism reflect very closely issues faced on coverage of European issues. Science isn’t covered well by the general press. Neither is Europe, on the whole. So when you put the two together, as the Daily Mail did this morning, then you can imagine what comes out.
Needless to say, the Daily Mail over-simplified, if not to say ridiculed, the real situation. The project has found ways to improve fruit storage, reduce waste, cut pesticide use and encourage children to eat fruit instead of sweets. These are important things. An interesting fact: The EU produced 7.7 million tonnes of eating apples in 2008. So if research like this can cut costs so that apple prices fall by just one penny per kilo that will mean annual savings for consumers of £64 million – or more than five times the cost of the project. Never mind the health benefits of reduced pesticide use, and the suffering caused by allergies (I know alot about that one!) This was the first project to quantify the cholesterol-reducing properties of apples, which can have a direct effect in reducing medicines taken – saving health services money.
Of course, we could have told the Mail all of this if they had bothered to ask us…
Thought those of you outraged about the alleged EU ban on selling eggs or rolls by number rather than weight might be interested in this statement from the European Parliament.
The discussion about how much of UK law is due to the EU rumbles on, but Channel 4 Factcheck have done a pretty comprehensive demolition of the figures floating around. Find it here
I’m sure today’s Express article (strap on front page, article page 3, opinion page 12) had the good burghers of the UK spitting out their Earl Grey in disgust, where it broke the story that the EU was planning to ban milk jugs in the good old British tea shop. Needless to say it’s rubbish. And it’s an interesting look at how these stories come about. We’ve seen the copy that was filed, which was about the discovery by some Spanish researchers that a lot of milk in coffee shops etc didn’t meet hygiene standards. The leap from there to an EU ban was purely in the mind of some sub at the Express. Purely. I would link to the story, but it was taken down pretty quickly and replaced with something nearer the original when this was pointed out to them. But how will the 700,000 people who bought a copy of the Express know that?
Even as other issues displace Haiti at the top of the news ladder, the relief effort there continues. The Commission’s humanitarian department is supporting NGOs on the ground and has a team out there. Their letters make interesting reading. The latest is on our website. Those from before, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake can be found on the Facebook Page of ECHO, the humanitarian aid department.