Wednesday, 4 July 2012

'Forced' to fly the EU flag

On 29 April, the Mail on Sunday reported: Brussels orders EU flag must fly over Whitehall every day... and we could be fined if we fail to comply.

Two months later, on 25 June, the Mail on Sunday returned to the story:

The article - which was reheated by the Express the next day - explained:

A row over the Government being forced to fly the European Union flag took a farcical turn last night after Brussels offered to pay for a new flagpole if it complied with the demand.

The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles was furious after being told that he faced being fined under new European Commission rules if he did not fly the EU flag continuously outside his office.

Forcing Pickles to 'continuously' 'fly' the EU flag?

That's not quite how the European Commission Representation in the UK sees it:

Contrary to the Mail on Sunday story (25 June) repeated by the Daily Express on 26 June, Brussels has not “demanded” that the Department for Communities and Local Government flies the EU flag on one of its two flagpoles all year round.

As was made very clear to the Mail on Sunday before it published the story, and as Mr Hahn wrote in a letter to Minister Eric Pickles, the proposal would “not require the EU flag to be flown on a flagpole in front of the premises…”

The EC is proposing only that Member States’ managing authorities for EU regional funding display an EU flag in a place visible to the public – inside or outside the relevant building – as a symbol of partnership in investing EU structural funds, which aim primarily to create jobs.

It is now up to Member States, including the UK, in the Council to decide whether to agree to that proposal. As Mr Hahn pointed out in the letter, no other national Minister has so far registered any objection. Most managing authorities already fly the EU flag alongside their national and sometimes regional ones.

As for the Mail on Sunday’s claim that Brussels has “offered to buy Britain a flagpole” this was a handwritten comment by Mr Hahn at the end of his personal letter to Mr Pickles, suggesting lightheartedly that Mr Hahn would fund a third flagpole from his own pocket if Mr Pickles wanted to fly the EU flag from it.

The Express did not seek comment from the Commission before repeating the Mail on Sunday story.

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