Tuesday, 21 September 2010

When Is A Myth Not A Myth

From EU Weekly, I spot this website listing all the so-called EuroMyths. Adopting a tone of 'aren't you Brits funny' it's a shame EU Weekly didn't take the time to read them properly because some of them turned out to be true and some of them weren't myths from the start. Take this one for instance:
Euromyth: Car lights must be used during day
There is a commitment by EU member states to equip new vehicles with ecologically friendly daytime lights , though having such lights would not, of course, force people to use them.
So let's see the article the EU refers to:
Motorists must switch on lights during day, EU says.
MOTORISTS may be forced to switch on their headlights when driving in daylight under European proposals aimed at improving road safety.
'May' is not the Times stating a fact, just a supposition

It is also proposing that all new cars be fitted with lights that turn on automatically whenever the engine is started.
And guess what happened in 2008? Directive 2008/89/EC (my emphasis):

(2) In order to increase road safety by improving the conspicuity of motor vehicles the obligation for fitting dedicated daytime running lights on these vehicles should be introduced into Directive 76/756/EEC.

Hmm dedicated lights designed to come on...wait for it...in the daytime! DRLs by their very design come on when the engine is started:

Where fitted, dedicated daytime running lights will switch on automatically when the engine is started.
And I have experience of DRLs. I have a new car with them fitted - in time for EU 2011 deadline - and they come on as soon as I start the engine. Is there a button to turn them off? No. Is there any practical way of turning them off? No. Can I stop them working in any way? No, not without causing significant damage to the front of my car with a hammer. So I am being forced to use lights during the day. So not a myth then.

Let's try another 'myth':

The European parliament votes today on whether or not your romantic text messages and phone calls should be stored - all in the interest of fighting terrorism.

Several new pieces of legislation have been put forward to gain greater control over electronic communications in a bid to curb terrorist activity. The new proposed laws would keep records of your electronic conversations for a number of years.

Information collected from mobile phones, landline phones and internet traffic would be stored so it could possibly be used to trace criminals.

The EU's response:

In March 2006 the European Parliament and the Council adopted a directive aimed at storing so-called ‘traffic data’ - details about the time and place of a communication, as well as the numbers dialled.

The directive does not relate to the content of the information communicated.

But the Swedish paper does not actually say the content is stored; it heavily implies it sure but the substance of what it says is true as the EU acknowledged in its response. Again not a myth.

Here's another:

A European Corporate Income Tax ?

"Chancellor Gordon Brown is heading for a bruising clash in Europe … He will veto plans for harmonisation of corporation tax … Among the proposals that will be blocked is a single 'European Corporate Income Tax', some of the proceeds of which would go straight to the Commission ..."

EU response:

The Commission has not proposed EU tax harmonisation and does not believe it is necessary to fix a minimum corporate tax rate. Member States are free to choose the tax systems they consider most appropriate, provided they respect EU rules. The level of taxation in the EU is a matter for individual Member States to decide. However, the Commission considers that the reform of company taxation in the EU is crucial to achieving the goal of making the Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. In the longer term, companies must be allowed a consolidated corporate tax base for their EU-wide activities to avoid the current costly inefficiencies of 15 separate sets of tax rules.

Read that carefully and you'll see that it doesn't specifically reject the original report and no wonder:

Since the foundation of the EU, the European Commission has started several initiatives to coordinate corporate taxation. In 1975, 1984 and 1992 it has also submitted proposals for directives that would provide some harmonisation of corporate tax rates and bases, but most Member States were very reluctant to give up some of their sovereignty in the field of corporate taxation, so the Commission eventually decided to withdraw its proposals.
The original report therefore is not a myth but the desire of some EU countries:

...French Economy Minister, Christine Lagarde...confirmed that France and Germany strongly want to move towards fiscal convergence. However, she said that “the main difference is that Germany wants only corporate tax convergence, whilst France wishes to harmonize both people and corporate income taxes”.
And I finish (for now) with this one:

A saucy clip has been published by the EU on You Tube. The clip features couples copulating in a number of different places. Brussels is using taxpayers’ money to get across the message “Europe is hot”. The success of the video that has already been viewed more than 100 000 times proves it yet again - sex sells.

Not once in its reply does the EU state that it's a myth. In fact when you try to view the relevant clip on YouTube this message flags up:

This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community.

Make up your own mind here (warning NSFW)

All of which goes to show that the Euromyth loving EU supporters are guilty of the same crime they accuse others of; namely a liberal use of the facts.