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155580.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:25 am Reply with quote

For years I have been collecting bizarre (and 100 percent real!) decrees/regulations of the EU/EC. Will bring some of them with me to Oxford tomorrow before posting. Get ready to be amazed! Lots of good questions may stem out them, I think...
In the meantime, if anyone has his/her own bits of crazy EU legislation on records, please bring them over!

155585.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:04 am Reply with quote

Vitali, I'm sure you're aware of this site:, where the EC repudiates Euromyths. It may be handy to have the link posted here in case anything needs checking, though.

155589.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:08 am Reply with quote

I am, of course, familiar with this. Yet, if you look at the "repudiations" carefully, almost all of them actually prove the opposite!

155981.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:17 am Reply with quote

I think this largely depends on exactly what's meant by 'decrees and regulations'. The majority of them, as far as I can see, were never set by the EU as 'rules' and never got as far as being passed by any legislation.

The comments and phrases from which most newspapers constructed their sensationalist articles were generally the product of preliminary consultation meetings, suggestions and sometimes recommendations.

Still, some of those recommendations are clearly a little nuts, so there's still material here for sure.

156000.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:02 am Reply with quote

EU/EC Regulations

It has become almost banal to talk about the increasingly ridiculous and plain stupid EU directives to cover all areas of life, but it is important to remember the following four points.

1. Most of them are not someone’s sad jokes, but properly documented pieces of the EU “legislation”.
2.They cost us, the EU taxpayers, a lot of money.
3.Despite regular – and rather Soviet-style – attempts by the EC spin doctors to publicly castigate the media for “inaccurate reporting” (read telling the truth) about their ludicrous directives, none of them has yet been convincingly disproved.
4.They are not as innocent as they seem, for, no matter how trifling, they actively promote homogenisation of everything, i.e. totalitarianism.

I have been collecting the bizarre EU rulings for years. Here are some examples from this ever expanding – like a glutton’s girth – collection (mb we could pick up a couple to be turned into good GI questions?):

A Thoroughly Incomplete List of Bizarre EU Regulations

pub darts to be banned as dangerous
double-decker buses to be scrapped as unsafe
yoghurt to be renamed “fermented milk”
sauces and dressings in restaurants to be offered in sealed individual sachets rather than bottles and tubes
sale of homemade bread and jam to be prohibited
every orange, lemon, plum, aubergine and cooking apple to carry a sticker indicating its origin, variety and quality class
staff at bars to wear ear-muffs (could be particularly handy, when asked for a change due to a punter –VV)
some sun glasses to be banned as too dark for driving
professional fishermen to wear hairnets while at sea
pork chops not to be sold with kidneys
doorstep milk deliveries to be banned
wildlife-park tourist signs to carry a picture of an elephant
fishermen to carry condoms in their first-aid kits (at least, not on top of their hairnets - VV)
gin bottles to be round, not square
advertising on egg shells to be permitted
Guy Fawkes night bonfires to be banned
no Valentine cards to be sent to work colleagues
British dog breeds to be banned in Europe
carrots to be classified as fruit
sale of fresh yeast to be forbidden
children under 12 not to have pocket money
bananas to be all standard-size
a universal phone code for Europe to be introduced (have been trying to do so for over 20 years – so far unsuccessfully).
And so on.

The more recent gems include:

The “EU Animal Welfare Regulation to Reduce the Pigs’ Stress Levels”, according to which pig farmers in EU countries must have toys inside their pigsties; if they don’t comply, the farmers (not the pigs!) can go to jail for three months. The compliance is to be checked by special Toy Inspectors. One law-abiding (probably German) farmer gave teddy bears and toy trains to his piglets, but within seconds they (piglets) irresponsibly gobbled them (teddy bears) up, their stress levels seemingly unchanged!
Britain to be no longer regarded as an island
Scottish kilts to be classified as “womenswear”
Children’s rocking horses under 60 cm tall to be banned as unsafe
Christmas cards with religious content to be banned
In May 2005, Uppsala city council was told by Brussels that it could not cull a large colony of rooks, despoiling the city’s cathedral with droppings, because the birds, all too common in Sweden, were on an EU rare species list. Instead, the trees in which the birds nested were to be covered with … nets (like fishermen's heads?). Sweden got even more confused by another 2005 EU-wide directive requiring all large hunting prey to be moved to a “chilled storage facity” within two hours of being shot (!) – and this is in the country where the outside air temperature is generally much “chillier” than any cold store!
European circus tightrope walkers to wear hard-hats during their high-altitude acts – as required by the 2005 “EU regulations, governing health and safety at work”. One circus professional was quoted as saying that the hard-hats were more a liability than anything else, for they could easily “slip over the artists’ eyes while performing or throw them off balance”.

156012.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:23 am Reply with quote

Thanks, Vitali. You will have gathered yesterday that we have got into the habit of questioning this kind of assertion quite closely, and so I suggest this: rather than anybody spending time chasing down these statements and their refutations, let's see which of them looks useful to us nearer the time and then see whether it stacks up.

Last edited by Flash on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:23 am; edited 1 time in total

156013.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:23 am Reply with quote


156046.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:30 am Reply with quote

Yeah... Incidentally, it was on BBC News yesterday that the EU are trying to take control of how professional sport is run in this country by introducing another set of dictatorial regulations.

156052.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:33 am Reply with quote

Vitali, what was the name of those EU offices which do nothing?

156062.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:47 am Reply with quote

It was Euregio, IIRC.

156221.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:59 pm Reply with quote

Flash, I know you wanted us to hold our horses on this, but I couldn't help myself with one of the stories which we particularly liked in the meeting and that is:

professional fishermen to wear hairnets while at sea

This is from Labour MP for Caerfilly, Wayne David, as told in a parliamentary debate:


When I was a Member of the European Parliament, the fishermen's hairnets story was running in the UK tabloid press, and I made inquiries of the Parliament and the Commission to see where that story had emanated from. No one had any idea. Almost in desperation, I visited a famous watering hole in Brussels called Kitty O'Shea's for half a Guinness, and lo and behold, I met the members of the British press corps joking among themselves. They had invented the story about fishermen's hairnets and sent it back to the UK, and to their amazement, it hit the front pages of the newspapers.


156229.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:36 pm Reply with quote

Q: How should we approach Euromyths?
A: Caerfilly.


156232.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:41 pm Reply with quote

Apparently they have Euromyths in Italy, too (we have in common a lively tabloid community) and they tend to end with the words "... and one of them's in Sicily", as in: "New EU regulations mean that there will soon be only be two abattoirs left in Italy ... and one of them's in Sicily".

156444.  Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:15 am Reply with quote

I’ve been campaigning against the common market for 31 years (and before you tell me I’ve been wasting my time, let me point out that the common market no longer exists, so that’s one-nil to me, I reckon), but even I have to admit that a majority of the EU “bonkers law” stories are groundless.

I do think relying on the EU's own definition of what is and isn't a myth, however, is astonishingly naive! Would we, for instance, grant the same degree of source authority to a UKIP website on EU myths? If not, why not? Neither is a disinterested source.

Meanwhile, I thought this one was interesting (don’t know whether it’s true or not, of course).

The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (which must become law in the UK this year) will ban “people writing fake reviews of their own books, or those of friends, on Amazon.”

S: Sunday Telegraph, 11 March 07

156445.  Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:16 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Apparently they have Euromyths in Italy, too (we have in common a lively tabloid community).

Like the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times, yes?


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