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Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

We promised to conclude with some light-hearted examples of the EU’s influence on British life being misreported (not that lawyers are celebrated for their sense of humour). In doing so, we do not pretend to address even a small fraction of the headlines in the national press ever written about the EU (whether accurate or not). Rather, we are using these examples to emphasise the importance of reliable evidence being used to inform the debate on Britain’s future.

  • In January 2000, rumours circulated that Brussels was forcing the UK to change its 999 emergency number. As the European Commission stated in response, the UK has always been free to keep its 999 number; the relevant legislation merely requires that users can call the European emergency number (112) and any other national emergency telephone numbers, free of charge.
  • In February 2002, stories were published lamenting the decline of the Teasmade and claiming that “Brussels bureaucrats” have decreed that they are too risky to have by the bedside! There is no prohibition on the sale or use of teasmades, either at the EU or UK level.
  • In November 2003, stories emerged about EU plans to tax Remembrance Day poppies (a response to European Commission proposals to simplify the use of VAT across the EU). This is not true: poppies benefit from the zero rate applicable to the sale of charitable goods.[1]
  • In July 2005, it was claimed that the EU was forcing the NHS to employ doctors who could not speak English. While EU legislation does protect all European workers from discrimination on the grounds of nationality, Member States are free to set their own recruitment criteria, including language requirements.[2]
  • In July 2008, reports circulated that the EU was “banning” the use of acres as a unit of measurement. In fact, the directive in question explicitly affirmed the right of Member States to use imperial measurements alongside metric ones.[3]
  • In April 2014, it was claimed that the EU was plotting to scrap British licence plates in favour of a standardised design. In fact, the EU proposal to simplify vehicle transfer and registration procedures made no reference to mandatory plates or colours.[4]
  • In January 2015, it was reported that EU chiefs are targeting the Sunday roast claiming that Brussels will impose maximum power limits on all new cookers. This is not true. The article was referring to the Eco-Design Directive, which has no impact on oven temperatures.[5]


  1. European Commission, Euromyths A-Z Index –
  2. Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications –
  3. Directive 2009/3/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement –
  4. BBC News, Inside Europe Blog, Threat to British number plates? Think again, 10 April 2014 –
  5. Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products –