The Independent’s Pro EU list is a bad joke – But not in the way you might think

I don’t want to get into the politics of “Brexit” or “No Brexit”. What I do want to do is highlight the “Independent” that has offered up a rosy picture of what the European Union without seemingly doing any research or read their own articles.

It is, problematic.

1/5 A cap on the amount of hours an employer can make you work

The Working Time directive provides legal standards to ensure the health and safety of employees in Europe. Among the many rules are a working week of a maximum 48 hours, including overtime, a daily rest period of 11 hours in every 24, a break if a person works for six hours or more, and one day off in every seven. It also includes provisions for paid annual leave of at least four weeks every year

Except. Nope.

Because while the picture might be fine and dandy for some people, there are enough exceptions and caveats to drive a truck through. Namely;

The following sectors of activity;

  • air, rail, road, sea, inland waterway and lake transport
  • sea fishing
  • other work at sea; or
  • to the activities of doctors in training, or
  • where characteristics peculiar to certain specific services such as the armed forces or the police, or to certain specific activities in the civil protection services, inevitably conflict with the provisions of these Regulations.

Domestic service – Regulations do not apply in relation to a worker employed as a domestic servant in a private household.

Unmeasured working time – Regulations do not apply in relation to a worker where, on account of the specific characteristics of the activity in which he is engaged, the duration of his working time is not measured or predetermined or can be determined by the worker himself, as may be the case for;

  • managing executives or other persons with autonomous decision-taking powers;
  • family workers; or
  • workers officiating at religious ceremonies in churches and religious communities.

Other special cases include;

Where the worker’s activities are such that his place of work and place of residence are distant from one another or his different places of work are distant from one another.

Where the worker is engaged in security and surveillance activities requiring a permanent presence in order to protect property and persons, as may be the case for security guards and caretakers or security firms.

Where the worker’s activities involve the need for continuity of service or production, as may be the case in relation to—

  1. Services relating to the reception, treatment or care provided by hospitals or similar establishments, residential institutions and prisons;
  2. Work at docks or airports;
  3. Press, radio, television, cinematographic production, postal and telecommunications services and civil protection services;
  4. Gas, water and electricity production, transmission and distribution, household refuse collection and incineration;
  5. Industries in which work cannot be interrupted on technical grounds;
  6. Research and development activities;
  7. Agriculture;

Where there is a foreseeable surge of activity, as may be the case in relation to

  1. Agriculture,
  2. Tourism, and
  3. Postal services

Where the worker’s activities are affected by

  1. An occurrence due to unusual and unforeseeable circumstances, beyond the control of the worker’s employer
  2. Exceptional events, the consequences of which could not have been avoided despite the exercise of all due care by the employer; or
  3. An accident or the imminent risk of an accident.

Shift workers

  • Regulation 10(1) does not apply in relation to a shift worker when he changes shift and cannot take a daily rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next one
  • Paragraphs (1) and (2) of regulation 11 do not apply in relation to a shift worker when he changes shift and cannot take a weekly rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next one; and
  • Neither regulation 10(1) nor paragraphs (1) and (2) of regulation 11 apply to workers engaged in activities involving periods of work split up over the day, as may be the case for cleaning staff.

And the list of exceptions goes on and on… including “Young people” and so forth.

2/5 Helping the people of Britain to avoid smoking

In 2014 MEPs passed the Tobacco Products Directive strengthening existing rules on the manufacture, production and presentation of tobacco products. This includes things like reduced branding, restrictions on products containing flavoured tobacco, health warnings on cigarette packets and provisions for e-cigarettes to ensure they are safe

Except. Nope.

Because bans on cigarette advertising and further restrictions were actually introduced into Britain in the Tobacco Advertising & Promotion Act of 2002, 12 years earlier.

Furthermore, as part of the Health Act 2009, tobacco displays at the point of sale have been prohibited in England in large shops (eg supermarkets) since 6 April 2012 and were banned in small shops from 6 April 2015. They have to be hidden from sight behind blank partitions.

As for the “provisions for e-cigarettes”, they don’t apply here. The same can be said for Germany and Italy. Hence the use of the sketchy “provisions”.

3/5 Helping you to make the right choices with your food

Thanks to the European Parliament, UK consumers have access to more information than ever about their food and drink. This includes amount of fat, and how much of it is saturated, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and so on. It also includes portion sizes and guideline daily amount information so people can make informed choices about their diet. All facts must be clear and easy to understand

Except once again. Nope.

Food labelling in the UK pre-dates European Regulations and while guidelines and colour boxes help simple individuals to understand that a block of fat might not be great for them, it really is just an extension of existing laws. Namely;

  • Food Labelling Regulations 1980
  • Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1982
  • Food Labelling Regulations 1984
  • Food Additives Labelling Regulations 1992
  • The Food Labelling Regulations 1996
  • Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1998
  • Food Labelling (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1999

My point being we already had rules and these are merely extensions to them.

4/5 Two year guarantees and 14-day returns policy for all products

Consumers across the EU have access to a number of rights, from things which are potentially very useful, to things which used to be annoying. For example, shoppers in the UK receive a two-year guarantee on all products, and a 14-day period to change their minds and return a purchase, these things are useful

Except. Nope.

Because as we reported in THE INDEPENDENT the existing Sale of Goods Act “trumps this directive as it meets or exceeds most of the requirements.”

5/5 Keeping your air nice and fresh (and safe)

Believe it or not, although the situation is improving, some areas of the UK have appalling air quality. A report by the Royal College of Physicians released on 23 February says 40,000 deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution in the UK every year. Air pollution is linked to a number of illnesses and conditions, from Asthma to diabetes and dementia. The report estimates the costs to British business and the health service add up to £20 billion every year

Keeping your air nice and fresh” – “A report by the Royal College of Physicians released on 23 February says 40,000 deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution in the UK every year“. Yeah… thanks for keeping our air nice and fresh EU.

As for the referendum, you must vote for what you feel is right. Despite what you might imagine from this list I am actually pro-being in the EU. But I just can’t stand the utter drivel that’s being offered as reasons to stay.

While it’s true that membership does cost us a lot, we also gain a lot in return. Both in terms of subsidies but also in development funding.

Put it another way, do you really imagine that given the lack of paying the EU for membership, the UK Government is going to start sharing out that wealth saved? Or do you think they are likely to keep the money and offer substantial savings on tax for higher earners and pass it off as a benefit for all?

In short… do you trust the current administration to look after you and not their friends.


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