Thursday, 28 October 2010

EU could make it up

The Telegraph has made new claims about what the EU is going to 'force' the UK to do in this article which appeared yesterday:

The word 'hijack' was actually used by a UKIP MEP although he doesn't actually say what the headline claims:

Paul Nuttall, a Ukip MEP, accused the EU of wanting to impose its view of history on war sites such as the Menin Gate, which marks the 55,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First World War fighting of the Ypres Salient but who have no known graves.

"As we come up to Remembrance Sunday it is outrageous to think that the EU might try and hijack the Menin Gate when in fact it commemorates the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died to protect our independence from Europe," he said.

But a letter from the European Commission Spokesperson for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth debunks the Telegraph's story:

You claim that the EU wants to ‘hijack’ Remembrance Sunday with a plan to put euro-branded commemorative plaques marking “European integration” on war cemeteries and memorials in the UK (27 October). This is nonsense and a serious distortion of the facts, which were explained in some detail to your correspondent.

The facts are that the UK government and other Member States asked the European Commission to come forward with an initiative for a ‘European Heritage Label’, which will mark sites which have an important place in European history and European integration.

Under our proposal, which was backed by the European Parliament this week, it will be up to national governments to nominate sites for the award, if they want to. The sites might include places of remembrance. An independent expert panel will assess the nominations it receives from national governments and decide which of them merits the heritage label.

If the panel receives no nominations from the UK, no sites in the UK would display the European Heritage Label.

The EU cannot unilaterally impose the heritage label on anyone.

We believe the scheme will raise international awareness of heritage sites all over Europe and that the cost of the initiative will be far outweighed by the economic benefits it will bring for the sites themselves, for job creation and for local businesses in terms of increased tourism.

To suggest that the EU wants to ‘hijack’ Remembrance Sunday is frankly outrageous. It dishonours the newspaper to write such rubbish and, more importantly, it dishonours those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom we take for granted today.

Dennis Abbott
Captain (Retd), Royal Signals
European Commission Spokesperson for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

This is the not the only time this week that newspaper stories about the EU have been challenged. Yesterday, Jonathan Scheele, Head of EU Representation in the UK, wrote to the News of the World explaining that one of their claims was very slightly out:

Your article “We scrimp and save …. Eurocrats splurge” published 24 October incorrectly states that the 2011 budget for the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) is 158 million pounds. Cedefop’s draft budget for 2011 is in fact ten times lower, ie 15.48 million pounds.

That was noticed by Minority Thought, as was the response to the Sunday Express' silly 'EU is on another planet' headline (also looked at by Atomic Spin).

The paper claimed in one sub-head that £670million was to be wasted 'making explicit films'. Clearly Express owner Richard Desmond has a vested interest in other people getting involved in the explicit film business.

But the story admitted that these weren't really 'explicit films' at all but are actually 'art-house films', although the Express dismisses these as 'revelling in scenes of sex and violence'.

Once again, Dennis Abbott responded, leaving a lengthy comment on the Express' website:

Don't you mean the Express is on another planet?

Kirsty Buchanan, congratulations: you are hereby inducted into the Express 'Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of the Story' hall of journalistic fantasy.

You write that the EU is funnelling taxpayers' cash 'into subsidies for pro-European documentaries and art-house films revelling in senes of sex and violence'.

Here are the facts, for anyone who's interested. By the way, I explained them to Kirsty last Friday:

The EU's aid for the film industry prohibits support for explictly pornographic or racist films or films promoting violence.

Oh and we do not just support 'art-house' films. Recent beneficiaries of funding from the EU include the companies behind award-films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Wind that Shakes The Barley and The Pianist. You may be aware that these films also did quite well at the box office.

Without EU funding at the early stages, these films might never have got off the drawing board.

Thr UK is among the biggest net beneficiaries of EU funding through the MEDIA fund for cinema (ie the UK gets a lot more out of the fund than it puts in).

Why does the EU help to fund the film sector - especially small operators? Because we want to help to create and safeguard jobs in the industry, and to ensure diversity.

If any readers want to find out the facts about EU funding for cinema, click here:

If they want to know more about programmes revelling in sex, they're much better off checking out Television X or Red Hot TV ... and we know you [sic] runs them, don't we?

Best regards

Dennis Abbott
EC spokesperson for education and culture

It's interesting to note that in both responses by Abbott, he makes clear that the journalist who wrote the story was told the EU's side of the story in advance but, in both cases, they seem to have deliberately ignored it.


  1. Dennis Abbott is clearly exasperated by this. What annoys me is that the EU (along with services like the NHS Behind the Headlines) need to have people to constantly debunk ridiculous stories when I'm sure they've got better things to do.

    Judging by the other comments, the Express readers won't listen anyway. It doesn't fit their narrative, so it's debunked.

  2. As a proud Brit I also take issue with the UKIP rep's assertion that the Brit troops in WWI/II fought to maintain our independance from Europe. Thats simply not true. In WWII at least the fight was against German expansion and agression which would have seen Europe become Greater Germany - nothing to do with European integration as it is now. If you don't like the EU/European integration please do voice your views, but please don't twist the sacrifice of so many people to fit your own current-time arguments.

  3. I am liking the cut of Dennis Abbott's cloth.

  4. It's as if the British newspapers make stuff up just so the EU has to pay for someone to come along and tell the real story. The papers of course then complain about the EU wasting money when part of this waste is because of thier own pathetic, lazy journalists.

    This year they are really going for it on the poppy front. Having a go at not only Germany(made up ALDI story), the BBC (Hypocritical poppy story) and now the entire EU as this post shows. Just what is the agenda, why are these scumbags dancing on the graves of the war dead by verbally abusing the result of thier sacrifces?

    Should the papers not be happy that we have a unified, peaceful EU which is becoming a role model for other regions across the globe? It shows that the people who lost thier lives did so for a reason.

    The way the likes of the Mail and Express report it's almost as if they want us to be at war again, as if this country needs to prove something. Even worse, some of these journalists sounds as if they want to lead some kind of NAZI uprising in the UK, the way the go on about Gays, Muslims,immigrants, disabled people etc. Some of thier articles, if said by politicians would certainly amount to a lot of raised eyebrows on the international scene.

    It's getting to the point where papers which used to just have an anti-EU slant on factual stories are now just purely making stuff up and it's a damn disgrace.

    This country used to have a newspaper/media industry to be proud of, people from all over the world (not just holiday makers in Spain) read our papers and trusted them. Today it's become a mockery of itself, relying on celebrity gossip, hear-say, bigotted, sexist, xenophobic, racist and, as this and many other blogs prove, totally made up journalism, and sadly this is now creeping into the broadsheets and TV News.

    As said above, we didn't fight to break away from Europe. We fought to protect and save Europe from facism and whatever these papers say we also fought to save Germany from itself.

    Sorry for the rant.

  5. grrrr

    definitely. ww2 was about fighting fascism as i recall, and happened in part because britain rejected the (american?) policy of isolationism. because they thought that what happened in europe was important, and because they didn't want it to spread to the uk.

    and well said on the film funding! honestly sometimes even i am amazed at the stupidity of the daily express.


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