Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Europe spies! Well, it may spy! At some point! Exclusive!

Here is today's Express front page:
The meaning couldn't be more clear: Europe has spied on your pay and savings. It is spying on your pay and savings.

Then the first line of the story:

EU snoopers are pressing for sinister new powers to spy on every taxpayer in Britain, the Daily Express can reveal today.

Oh. They haven't got the powers yet? They aren't currently spying? So that headline is totally misleading?

No. No. Yes.

It also represents another interesting use of the term:

the Daily Express can reveal today.

Last time they tried to claim that they were exclusively revealing something, it turned out the same documents had been on a government website for over two months.

So a quick Google of the world Eurofisc - the name of this scheme - shows that there were several news stories about it in the business media around 18 August, when the scheme was actually announced.

So just one month old - rather than two - this time. Still, one month old front page news is still an improvement on all the twelve year old Diana stories.

Eurofisc - which the Express calls 'sinister' - has been proposed as a measure to cut VAT fraud, which is claimed to run to 200 billion Euros across Europe per year. Sinister indeed.

But when the Express relies on quotes from the TaxPayers' Alliance, a famously anti-Europe Tory MP, a Tory MEP and a UKIP MEP, you can be sure the proposal is not going to get a fair hearing.

Emotive - and incredibly cliched - terms such as 'snoopers', 'bureaucrats' and 'faceless officials' (is that literally officials with no faces?) are all thrown into the mix too.

In any case, the scheme needs a unanimous vote of approval from all 27 EU members. The EuObserver and EurActiv both say national governments may well be unwilling to agree to the scheme as a whole. So not only is that headline not currently true, it may never be true.

For the Express, that's no longer surprising.

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