What you need to know about crazy EU directives…

The British public loves to get angry about the European Union. What we can’t stand is the meddling of faceless bureaucrats in Brussels who seem intent on ruining our traditional — and, therefore, correct — ways of doing things…
 
 Though stories about crazy rules imposed by the EU tend to get a wide circulation — there is actually very little truth to a lot of them. So, here are a few fascinating facts that will help you effortlessly prevail at any EU conversation.

Probably the most famous piece of ‘bureaucratic lunacy’ to come out of the EU is that that officials tried to ban curved bananas! Though it sounds utterly ridiculous, there is some truth to the story. Regulation (EC) 2257/94 stipulates that fruit and vegetables “must be free from malformation or abnormal curvature”.
 
 No attempt was made to define “abnormal curvature” and in the case of bananas the curvature is fairly normal — so, actually, no one was trying to ban bent bananas. But the story acted as a convenient way for the media — and in particular Daily Mail — to pillory EU rules.
 
 In 2005, the EU apparently went too far. According to British tabloids, some joyless EU official had ordered British barmaids to cover up their cleavages — prompting The Sun newspaper to run their infamous ‘Save Our Jugs’ campaign.
 
 However, the actual proposal said nothing about barmaid’s breasts. The ‘Optical Radiation Directive’ was designed to make employers responsible for ensuring their staff did not suffer from over-exposure to the sun — and, thus, avoid skin cancer. Since barmaids tend to work indoors…

At the turn of the last century, it was widely reported in the UK press that Brussels was forcing British grocers to give up their beloved imperial measurements. As a result, five market traders, known as ‘The Metric Martyrs’, went to the High Court to defend their right to sell food in ounces, pounds and stones! They lost. 
 
 Whilst this blame was entirely laid at the door of the EU, what the press ignored was the fact that the British government had committed itself to gradually going metric in a white paper in 1972 — a full year before the country even joined the European Community…
 
 Another well-known ‘euromyth’ is the story that the European Commission were demanding that the popular British party snack Bombay Mix was to change its name to ‘Mumbai Mix’ — and, to make it worse — and really fire up the Eurosceptic press — it was being done in the interests of ‘political correctness’…
 
 The Sun newspaper was first to call out ‘nutty EU officials’, stating that the Indian city of Bombay had been called Mumbai since 1995 and the snack was being forced to rebrand ‘because the old name dated back to a time of colonial rule’. But, in fact, it transpired that the story was entirely baseless. In The Sun…weird.

Do say: “Despite the European Commission’s reputation for crazy meddling, actually very few European laws get passed without the UK government’s agreement.”
 
Don’t say: “It’s an outrage — gawping at a barmaid’s breasts is every Englishman’s right!”