Misleading articles about the European Union are nothing new. In fact the fabrication of so-called Euromyths has, in some quarters, become something of a sport. We’ve all heard the exaggerated or entirely fictional stories about EU laws: Brussels bans curvy bananas or Eurocrats use 26,911 words to regulate cabbages. The flow of these myths hasn’t stopped in 2017 and this year has offered up a rich array of myths for the archives. Here are our top five myths of the year:
The EU imposes heftier speeding fines on Brits than other EU citizens
False reports in January claimed that new EU rules punish British drivers by imposing heftier speeding fines on them than their own citizens.
In 2015, the EU introduced rules to ensure that drivers from one EU country cannot break traffic rules in other EU countries without paying the necessary fine. This means EU citizens caught driving dangerously fast on the way to their holidays will be identified and no longer be able to ignore fines they receive though the post. All national governments can apply these rules. UK authorities have chosen not to apply the powers, and so do not pursue non-resident offenders. But, it is completely false to say the EU is targeting Brits driving abroad.
Colouring pencils and crayons are to be “banned” by the European Union
A favourite Euromyth returned to headlines this year when it was incorrectly reported that the EU is banning crayons and colouring pencils.
A quick internet search, however, quickly dispels this far-fetched myth. In reality, the EU is introducing new measures to reduce the lower limit for lead in toys, based on evidence. The measures, which come into force in summer 2018, will ensure that children can continue to enjoy discovering their artistic side without being exposed to lead poisoning.
The EU wants to ban doner kebabs
A late entry into 2017’s Euromyth hall of fame was the false reports in mid-December that the EU is banning doner kebabs.
In truth, the European Parliament debated whether to ban the use of phosphates as a preservative in processed meats. Scientific research has shown a link between the chemicals and heart disease in humans. However, a majority of elected parliamentarians voted against a proposal, which would have required a change in the manufacturing process of kebab meat, but not bring about a ban on the beloved snack. The doner is not a goner.
The EU is banning fries
The humble chip is a staple of European cuisine, so why might you have read that the EU banned French fries this year?
In fact, the EU merely agreed that food manufacturers must reduce the level of the harmful substance acrylamide in our food. The European Food Safety Agency published a risk assessment in 2015, concluding that acrylamide potentially increases the risk of developing cancer in all age groups It’s quite of a leap between reducing consumers’ exposure to a likely carcinogenic substance and banning Europe’s favourite potato-based delight.
The EU outlaws drinking beer in steins
There was uproar in Germany this year, when rumours surfaced that the EU was making it illegal to drink beer from typical Bavarian Steinkrügen (steins). To make matters worse, it was claimed that the traditional stoneware beer mugs would in future have to be marked with the warning “not for use with sparkling beverages.”
Schmarrn! No law was passed at EU level to ban steins. A 2004 EU law, the Measuring Instruments Directive, sets out that in bars & restaurants, beer should be served in glasses with visible filling marks in the interest of consumers, so that it is always clear that they are being served the correct quantities. This of course doesn’t apply to opaque steins, which aren’t designed for accurate measurements