17. Barmy Brussels bureaucrats
It’s rather bizarre hearing first hand about EU legislation, and then reading the UK media. The institutional structure can be complex, but my compatriots do their best to turn the opaque Brussels-speak into simple, colloquial English. What a great service they are doing to communicate complex matters to the British public.
Here’s an interlude with my top ten EU stories.
10. EU rules require bosses to assess risks to employees working in the sun all day. It’s up to national authorities to decide what measures to take in each industry, like handing out sun cream.
The Sun: “Hands off our barmaids’ boobs- the EU has declared a crackpot war on busty barmaids. Po-faced pen-pushers have deemed it a HEALTH HAZARD for girls to show too much cleavage. And in a daft directive that will have drinkers choking on their pints, Brussels bureaucrats have ordered a cover-up. A spokesperson for CAMRA said: ‘It’s just another blatant example of Europe gone mad.’’
The more serious and well-travelled Telegraph: “Bavarian barmaids are to be forced by an EU directive to cover up. Brewery owners, politicians, and most of the women themselves have condemned the legislation as absurd, claiming the “tan ban”, as it has been nicknamed, will destroy a centuries-old tradition.” They then include an elaborate description of how figure-hugging and revealing the “dirndl” can be.
9. EU national governments and the European Parliament agree amendments to the 1986 legislation, itself based on rules from the Industrial Revolution, protecting workers’ hearing.
The Sunday Times: “An edict from Brussels is to ban bagpipes.”
8. Industry representatives have asked the EU to classify fruit and veg by shape as well as size, to assist with planning how many you can fit in a box for transportation.
The Daily Mail: “EC officials are trying to ban curved cucumbers.”
The Sun: “Brussels bureaucrats ban bent bananas.”
7. In line with EU recommendations, the UK government decides to have one standard design for lollipop-persons’ sticks across the whole of England and Scotland, to ensure sticks are instantly recognisable. This was originally proposed by the UN in 1968 and was implemented in Wales in the previous decade.
The News of the World (and Sun and Metro) go with:
“STOP THIS MADNESS! The barmy bureaucrats of Brussels appeared to have gone totally bonkers last night… they banned the sticks used by our lollipop ladies. The Euro meddlers say foreign drivers may not understand the “Stop: Children” sign, suggesting they will simply drive on when a lady stands in front of them.”
6. The EU Directive on the Protection of Animals in Transit states that live animals must be carried in conditions appropriate to the species. In the case of shellfish, this means ensuring that they arrive at their destination in good condition and fit to eat.
The Times, Telegraph, Mail, Evening Standard, Sun and Express go with:
“Brussels says shellfish must be given rest breaks when on long journeys.”
5. Approximately 30 people die each year in the UK as a result of a fall in the workplace. EU laws on “working at height” protect workers by asking national authorities to decide on appropriate safety equipment for each sector.
The Sun: “EU laws set to FORCE trapeze artists and tightrope walkers to wear safety helmets while performing.”
4. Sometimes it’s twisted. The boss of the European Investment Fund joked that maybe Waterloo Station should be renamed, to avoid putting off French tourists.
The Sun and The Express quote the response of a Tory politician: “Eurocrats are trying to rewrite history.”
3. Sometimes it’s completely invented. The UK, along with the rest of the Commonwealth, started going metric in 1965, 8 years before joining the EU. The European Commission’s only role is to ensure that EU laws democratically recognise pints, miles and ounces, for as long as the UK government wishes the country to use them.
The Sun: “Brussels is on a drive to rob our country of her identity.”
Daily Star: “The British pint could be BANNED.”
2. Sometimes it’s just a drive to make boring news sound interesting. For instance, geographical data used in EU-wide environmental programmes are to be made more interoperable between member states.
The Sun: “New EU map makes Kent part of France.”
1. And sometimes they get it right. The EU member states agree maximum amounts of flavourers and sweeteners in foods.
The Sun went with “EC to ban prawn cocktail crisps”, which was true, because the UK forgot to request an exemption for crisps. But when in London they realised their mistake and requested it, the crisps were promptly “unbanned” again. Those barmy Brussels bureaucrats, eh, letting member states sell crisps with excessive amounts of sugar in! Well, at least you don’t need to worry about any of the ingredients needing rest breaks on long journeys.