If you thought such stories were limited to false claims about the packaging of smoked breakfast fish, think again. In time-honoured festive Commission tradition, here are the five most far-fetched euro-fantasies of the year.
Animal, vegetable or bra labels?
Let’s start with a classic of the genre – another outrageous claim about the EU regulating the food on your table and the clothes on your back. It was February this year when one French public figure complained, “a Europe that sets limits on the size of cucumbers or the size of bra labels, is a Europe that doesn’t help us!” Well, let us help you out here, both of those claims are categorically untrue.
Full time for football in Finland?
Finnish football fans were gripped with fear this summer after it was falsely reported that the EU’s meddling was going to shut down the continent’s favourite sport. The myth originated from a report about a potential ban on the microplastics used on some artificial football pitches. While a report written by the European Chemicals Agency did show that using the granules carries health and environmental risks, it should come as no surprise that the reporter in question scored a bit of an own goal. For the record, the EU has no plans to outlaw football. Check back in again in 2020 to see whether the beautiful game is in jeopardy.
Are wild mushrooms really off the menu in Czechia?
Scandal hit Czechia earlier this year when it was claimed the European Union was deliberately banning the possession of knives to stop Czechs from enjoying their beloved pastime of picking mushrooms in the forest. The truth? A little more nuanced. In fact, the final report by the European Parliament Special Committee on Terrorism asked national governments to consider banning certain types of particularly dangerous ‘zombie’ and ‘butterfly’ knives commonly used in knife crime. So no reason for panic. Be it porcini, chanterelle or morel, everyone can still be a fun guy and take their knife with them to forage for mushrooms in the woods.
Burying the truth
Austrians were understandably upset when a national newspaper reported that a new EU regulation required their national Formula 1 hero, the late great Niki Lauda to be exhumed. The myth cited a local priest who claimed that, according to EU law, graves must be paved with concrete. As it turns out, the story was completely false. On further investigation, the priest claimed that he had never said such a thing, and the whole affair had apparently been a convoluted misunderstanding. In reality, racing legend Niki Lauda had been temporarily moved from his resting place in Vienna so that his family could construct a memorial they deemed more befitting of the great man.
Croatians hung out to dry?
Residents of towns on Croatia’s Adriatic coast may have read that the EU was putting an end to the practice of drying laundry outside this August. Reports suggested that EU legislation would forbid people from hanging their clothes out to dry on the fronts of buildings and houses. As it turns out though, the ban was brought in by the local government in Kaštela, and had nothing to do with the EU. Next time, we would recommend not airing your dirty laundry in public.
If you want to learn about what you can do to make sure you’re not caught out by disinformation, check out the following blog post:
10 ways the EU is fighting disinformation
Countering online disinformation is one of the biggest challenges democracies face today.
Read more far-fetched Euromyths from 2018 and 2017: