A euromyth is a exaggerated or invented story about the European Union (EU) and the activities of its institutions, such as purportedly nonsensical EU legislation.
Conversely, the same term has been applied by Eurosceptics to purportedly misleading or exaggerated claims by the European Commission, and some assert that the term (in the former sense) is falsely applied to true stories.
Debate as to whether a particular claim is true sometimes continues long after the original story appeared. On occasions, Euromyths may arise when the actions of a different European organisation, such as the Council of Europe, are erroneously attributed to the EU.
In 2000, the British government announced a policy of publicly rebutting such myths and accused journalists of failing in their mission to inform.[needs update] Accusations of distorted or untruthful reporting are most commonly directed at conservative and Eurosceptic sections of the British media. Stories can present the European civil service as drafting rules that "defy common sense". Examples cited as Euromyths include stories about rules banning mince pies, prawn cocktail crisps, curved bananas and mushy peas. Others include a story that English fish and chips shops would be forced to use Latin names for their fish (The Sun, 5 September 2001), quoted in that double-decker buses would be banned (The Times, 9 April 1998), that barmaids would have to cover up their cleavage.
In some cases, Euromyth stories have been traced to deliberate attempts by lobbyists to influence actions by the European bureaucracy, such as the level of customs duties for particular products. EU officials have also claimed that many such stories result from unclear or misunderstood information on complicated policies, and are claimed to have seized on minor errors in stories as evidence that they are entirely fictional.
A 1984 episode of the satirical television programme Yes Minister included a plotline in which the Commission would require the renaming of the British sausage as an "emulsified high fat offal tube" on account of it not containing enough meat. The "eurosausage" story is used as an amusing but fictional example of a Euromyth.
See also: Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2257/94
The alleged ban on curved bananas is a long-standing, famous and stereotypical claim that is used in headlines to typify the Euromyth. With other issues of acceptable quality and standards, the regulation specifies minimum dimensions and states that bananas shall be free from deformation or abnormal curvature. The provisions relating to shape apply fully only to bananas sold as Extra class; slight defects of shape (but not size) are permitted in Class I and Class II bananas. A proposal banning straight bananas and other misshapen fruits was brought before the European Parliament in 2008 and defeated.
On 29 July 2008, the European Commission held a preliminary vote towards repealing certain regulations relating to other fruit and vegetables but not bananas. According to the Commission's press release, "In this era of high prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw these products away or destroy them [...] It shouldn't be the EU's job to regulate these things. It is far better to leave it to market operators". Some Eurosceptic sources have claimed this to be an admission that the original regulations did indeed ban undersized or misshapen fruit and vegetables.
On 25 March 2010, a BBC article stated that there were EU shape standardisation regulations in force on "apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes" and "Marketing standards for 26 types of produce had been scrapped in November 2008, following information that a fifth of produce had been rejected by shops across the EU for failing to meet the requirements".
The right-wing press regularly ridicules the EU for constructing silly and petty rules. One of the most popular forms of reporting EU matters is the so-called Euro-myth. These are exaggerated stories or even inventions about the activities of EU bodies, or EU directives which defy "common sense", such as the banning of mince pies, curved bananas, busty barmaids, soya milk, mushy peas, vitamin supplements – to name a few of the numerous examples ..."Guide to the best euromyths". BBC News. BBC. 23 March 2007. Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
The British public loves a euro-furore - a story about changes to our traditional way of doing things, usually dreamt up by "barmy Brussels bureaucrats" or "meddling eurocrats".
Hang on: I thought it was all meant to be a scare story. Whenever Euro-enthusiasts found themselves losing an argument, they would say, "You're making all this up: it's a tabloid Euro-myth, like bent bananas". [...] Yet it now turns out that, by the EU's own admission, there were rules specifying the maximum permitted curvature of bananas.
In 2002 the press reported a threat to certain breeds of the Queen's favourite dog from "a controversial EU convention". The story turned on one key mistake. A European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals does exist, and it does condemn the breeding of some varieties of dogs as pets. However, it is a product of the Council of Europe, Europe's main human rights 'watchdog', not of the European Union, or 'Brussels bureaucrats'..
Euromyths provide great fun for journalists. The media has a mission to entertain, and some of them rise magnificently to that goal, Mr Cook said. "But they are failing in their other mission – to inform. From now on, the Government will be rebutting all such stories vigorously and promptly. You will be hearing the catchphrase 'facts, not myths' until that is the way the EU is reported.
Chippies [i.e. fish and chip shops] could be forced to sell fish by their ancient Latin names—thanks to the craziest European ruling so far. If barmy Brussels bureaucrats get their way, baffled Brits will have to ask for hippoglossus hippoglossus instead of plain halibut. ... Takeaway, restaurants, fishmongers and supermarkets are all set to be BANNED from using names that have been around for centuries
There was great alarm in 2005 when it was reported that 'po-faced pen-pushers' from the EU had ordered a cover-up of barmaids' cleavages.
In January 2002 a spate of stories appeared in the UK press that briefly cast light on how Euromyths are manufactured and for what sort of purrpose... Close inspection... revealed the source of the story... to be a well-known sauce manufacturer that had retained a commercial lobby group with a remit to find a way round EU rules....
It all began, I am reliably informed, in the boardroom of a well known sauce manufacturer which must remain nameless. [...] Such firms do not understandably like to be seen manipulating or greasing the wheels of power for their own ends, so the company in question retained a lobbying firm which must also remain nameless.
However, a senior EU spokesman put his own particular spin on the issue by pointing out one minor journalistic error in The Times' coverage as evidence that UK news reports were entirely fabricated.
Some are entirely invented for excitable journalists—'Mumbai mix'—while others are tenuously connected to facts, such as the most famous Euromyth of them all, straight bananas.
Mother of all euromyths: Bananas must not be excessively curved ... 'Some wise cracker asked: "What does this mean for the curvature of bananas?"' recalled one EU official. The question stuck and a myth was born.
European Union Member States yesterday held a preliminary vote on Commission proposals to repeal specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables. While not binding, the vote gives a strong indication that these standards will be repealed when the formal vote is taken later in the year. The Member States did not reach a qualified majority either for or against the proposal. If, after allowing time for appropriate scrutiny by our trading partners, this vote were repeated later in the year, the rules would be repealed under the Commission's responsibility. The Commission's initiative to get rid of these standards followed a declaration made last year during the reform of the Common Market Organisation for fruit and vegetables. It is a major element in the Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the rules and cut red tape. The proposal would also allow Member States to exempt fruit and vegetables from specific marketing standards if they are sold with a label 'products intended for processing' or equivalent wording. Such products could be either misshapen or under-sized and could for example be used by consumers for cooking or salads etc. In this era of high prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw these products away or destroy them. 'This is a concrete example of our drive to cut red tape and I will continue to push until it goes through,' said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. 'It shouldn't be the EU's job to regulate these things. It is far better to leave it to market operators. It will also cut down on unnecessary waste and benefit consumers.' The proposals would maintain specific marketing standards for 10 products which account for 75 percent of the value of EU trade: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, tomatoes. Member States could exempt even these from the standards if they were sold in the shops with an appropriate label. They would abolish specific standards for 26 products: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, witloof/chicory, while setting new general minimum standards for the marketing of fruit and vegetables. For practical reasons, all of these changes would be implemented from 1 July 2009.