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Is this the best they can do?

Posted by Helen Tuesday, January 04, 2005

There are times when the International Herald Tribune sees itself as the cheer leader for the European Union. They do not always get it right, frequently managing to muddle Europe and the EU and describing what Europeans do or do not do as being the achievement of the Union. Then again, a lot of the time they manage to talk sense.

Today they ran a very odd article, entitled Truth, or another media Euromyth? Yes, you guessed it: here was our old friend the eurosceptic British media producing those terrible myths about the EU.

First off was the Daily Mail, which blamed the EU and its rules for the shortage of Brazil nuts. To be fair to James Marsh, the press officer interviewed by Graham Bowley, the journalist, he was not too sure whether the article was accurate or not.

Then came all the others:

“Today it is Brazil nuts; on other days the EU is accused in Britain’s tabloid press of banning fake snow, rocking horses and even children’s playtime.”
The rocking horses, as I recall, were not so much banned but made difficult and expensive to produce and impossible sell by various unnecessary health and safety rules. But why spoil a good story with facts?

The EU’s name is blackened by lies, though occasionally they are true, when it obviously has been acting on scientific evidence. All a bit muddled. But the most interesting question is: who cares? The subject of euromyths is trés passé. Few eurosceptics are interested in it, there being far more important issues to worry about.

Some years ago I was asked by a journalist to provide him with a few choice horror stories about EU lunacy. I offered the common fisheries policy. He displayed a definite coolth. Then there are other horrors: the fridge mountain, making proper waste disposal impossible, the rules and regulations imposed on electricians, the care homes that had to be shut down – the list goes on.

Still, it is not all. The EU is after bigger game: integration of defence and security, the creation of a common police force and defence force (whatever it is called at any given time); it persists in running a protectionist policy that, coupled with its aid policy, destroys whole communities. We can go on indefinitely. Euromyths? Pah. These do not even qualify as fairy tales. Why bother with them?