The EU invented the concept of the EU myth supposedly to balance bad press reports, by reporting the “truth”, however the real reason the EU is so interested in its so called myths is in order to create the impression that anyone who opposes or questions the EU is being dishonest. Just about anything which points up the general failing of the EU is labelled a myth, the truth of the subject is neither here nor there as far as the EU is concerned the idea is to muddy the waters. and add to the creation of its own myth.
The myth listing take the form of selecting press headlines and then rebutting them in order to create a handy rebuttal system and a sense that the press is making up lies.
Margot Wallström Blog carries a link to the EU list and introduces it thus:
Most of us rely on our national newspapers, television and radio news to find out about what is going on in the EU. Unfortunately, amongst the clear and informative reports lie a large number of stories based on twisted facts or even lies. The stories can make entertaining reading, but many people believe them and often come away with a picture of the EU as a bunch of mad ‘eurocrats’. These pages take some of those stories and set the record straight – sadly, we cannot keep track of them all.
The clear and informative reports are of course those issued by the EU or by those taking the EU press releases at face value. The large number of twisted fact are those which fall into the category of either opposing or questioning the EU.
The famous one which is often referred to by eureocrats is the bent banana Myth.
The basic news story is that the EU was interfering in our day to day lives to such an extent that it was defining which sort of fruit and vegetables we would be allowed to buy and those fruits and vegetables would have to meet EU regulated specifications as to curvature size etc. The deeper problem arising from this is that only those fruit and vegetables registered with the EU can be offered for sale or export, this is having a detrimental effect on the varieties of fruits and vegetables that are allowed to be sold and there is a danger that EU rules and the exorbitant costs of testing and registering fruits and vegetables to meet EU regulations is harming our crop base.
The Myth list introduces this Myth
Goodbye bendy bananas, farewell curved cucumbers, so long chunky carrots
The Press: EU regulations mean the end of bendy bananas, curved cucumbers and chunky carrots. Greengrocers must conform to the myriad of rules covering size, length, colour and texture of fruit and vegetables.
(The Times, 19 December 2003)
The Facts: Bananas are classified according to quality and size for international trade. Individual governments and the industry have in the past had their own standards with the latter’s, in particular, being very stringent. The European Commission was asked by national agriculture ministers and the industry to draft legislation in this area. Following extensive consultation with the industry, the proposed quality standards were adopted by national ministers in Council in 1994.
The diameter of the fruit is a way of measuring its maturity/development. Fruit grown organically or conventionally have to reach a certain degree of maturity in order to have a reasonable chance of satisfying the consumer. The minimum diameters laid down by standards are usually fixed at a level at which most fruit are of a satisfactory quality for consumption. This minimum stage of development does not depend on the method of production, but more on cultivation techniques diminishing the number of fruits on the tree to allow a better development of the remaining ones. That is why there is no specific requirement for organic produce. The contrary would mean organic farmers being allowed to sell smaller produce.
Cucumbers do not have to be straight. There are grading rules, which were called for by representatives from the industry to enable buyers in one country to know what quality and quantity they would get when purchasing a box, unseen, from another country. Nothing is banned under these rules: they simply help to inform traders of particular specifications. The EU Single Market rules are identical to pre-existing standards set down both by the UN/OECD and the UK.
Essentially the Times was correct in their statement “Greengrocers must conform to the myriad of rules covering size, length, colour and texture of fruit and vegetables.” Nothing the propaganda unit has written here on the subject refutes the fact that the EU has set down which types size dimensions of fruits and vegetables can be sold in our shops, which was exactly the point of the original article.
Some of the favourite tactics of the Euromyth industry.
Misrepresenting the quote: The Myth unit take a press report that might refer to Eurocrats or Brussels or might refer to early debate in formulating policy or a policy paper and then refers it to the EU Commission i.e. the Commission has no plans etc. A tactic because the original press report did not say the Commission did have plans.
Accurate reporting is said to be inaccurate because it is insufficiently enthusiastic about the purpose of the proposed directive or regulation: Totally accurate reports are describes as myths if the reported questions the policy or does not enthuse enough about the EU or the policy.
Double think: The bendy banana is a myth, not because the EU has not banned bendy bananas (the relevant banana regulation says that bananas in “all classes” must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers) but because it is reported as an example of the stifling interference we experience from the EU busybodies. If the press reports were praising the EU for protecting consumers from bendy bananas, it would cease to be a myth and become a clear honest report.
Outright lies: The Myth Unit is not above telling strait lies: instance The Commission has not proposed EU tax harmonization: When in fact the Commission has been proposing EU tax harmonization for years, and harmonization of corporation tax remains a “long-term objective”
So why one is tempted to ask does the EU make such a big deal on the subject creating a myth out of the basic truth, often in very unimportant cases. There can only be one answer they wish to create the impression that we are all lying so when it comes to the important issues anything said can be dismissed as just another EU myth, and secondly it works towards the idea that the EU does not affect us in our daily lives; and that is the biggest myth of them all.
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