EU birth certificates myth swallowed whole by the anti-European press

It may be the silly season, but the latest Euromyth to ruffle right-wing feathers takes silliness to a whole new level. The Express, Mail, Sun and Telegraph unanimously announced at the weekend that Brussels wants to remove the royal crest from British birth certificates and replace it with the hated EU flag. The Mail declared Brits would be “stamped with the EU flag from the cradle to the grave” while the Sun led with the rather lame “B-EU-rths ‘n deaths”.

They gave generous space to Eric Pickles, who fumed:

This imposed Euro-law is part of an aggressive propaganda campaign to bully councils and public institutions into flying the EU flag at every opportunity.

In fact, the Commission simply proposed (back in April) that EU countries recognise each other’s basic documents –such as birth, marriage or company certificates – without the need for translations and special stamps. It also proposed offering people the option of a standard format European certificate when registering a birth or marriage, so they don’t have to translate their documents elsewhere in the EU.

Anyone who’s been through the hassle of translating or legalising certificates for foreign administrations will welcome the move with open arms. Around 1.7 million Brits live in another EU country and around 1 in 8 marriages in the UK are among bi-national couples. The Commission’s proposals would save time, energy and an estimated £280 million a year in legal and administrative fees.

As with most Euromyths, the proposal is not yet law and has to be agreed by national governments and MEPs before becoming so. Even then, the EU format certificates will be purely optional, and no common format – with or without the EU flag – has yet been agreed.

No matter that the proposal was the result of a lengthy public consultation back in 2010, in which the House of Lords, Law Society and others took part. No matter that, according to polls, 74% of Brits are in favour (pdf) of standard formats for civil status documents in all EU member states. No matter that the Conservative Europe Minister had already cautiously welcomed the initiative. All these facts would have stood in the way of a cheap and malicious pop at the EU that was just too good to miss.

We in the UK are of course used to low standards and biased reporting by our press on European matters. In fact we are less likely to trust our national press than any other EU country. Just 18% of Brits say they trust the press while 79% distrust it, less than half the average level of trust in the EU.

But the worst part is that, this time, the Eurosceptic media were not the chief culprits. The whole story was cynically fabricated, spun and sold by a member of the Cabinet to acquiescent journalists to score political points. The Guardian was alone in picking up on and exposing his tricks. Of course, Pickles’ porkies are just the latest unrefined attempt by an ambitious Tory minister to pitch to the UKIP gallery. After Theresa May’s ‘go home’ van, we can sadly only expect more of this nonsense.

* Giles Goodall is a Lib Dem European Parliamentary Candidate for South East England.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

20 Comments

  • Ironic that Eric Pickles should rant at anyone about “an aggressive propaganda campaign to bully councils and public institutions”, seeing as that’s basically all he’s done for the last 3 years as Local Govt minister.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Aug '13 - 4:15pm

    And c) that it’s an “imposed Euro-law”, rather than a proposal that won’t happen unless the Parliament and the Council of Ministers sign up to it.

  • And yet these same myth peddling papers who are the ones that insist the people should have an in out referendum, the result of which has already been skewed by generations of bile spilling from these very same papers.

    Almost like they have an agenda……….

  • @Paul. The myth is that there isn’t really such a thing as an EU flag, Since 1985 the EU uses the Flag of Europe adopted of the Council of Europe (founded by Winston Churchill) in 1955.

  • In fairness the Sunday Times also reported the Commission clarification version and focused on Pickles looking stupid

  • Giles Goodall 12th Aug '13 - 8:02pm

    @MBoy: Absolutely. Pickles accusing others of bully boy tactics really is the pot calling the kettle black!

    @Stuart: Indeed, the Sunday Times is another honourable exception alongside the Guardian for picking up on Pickles’ tricks

  • Clear Thinker 12th Aug '13 - 8:17pm

    Are we being a little disingenuous here? Births, marriages, company formation, and deaths are all high-emotion events and they are also ways that governing entities use to say who “belongs” – they are ways that nations define who the nation is. If you want to abolish a nation, you can do it slowly, by abolishing national symbols of belonging.

    If you want to abolish a national symbol, you can do it is small, easy steps. First you provide an optional alternative, then you make it advantageous to choose the alternative and awkward to choose the original, then you make the alternative the default and make people specifically request the original, then you make it a huge hassle to choose the original, then you abolish the original on the grounds that very few people choose it.

    It really doesn’t matter that it hasn’t yet become law, does it? It’s the intention that counts, and maybe the Abominable Pickles and the papers got that part of it right. Personally I support a European super-state, but that doesn’t mean I should kid myself that things like this don’t matter, or that they don’t matter to people in nations.

  • There are myth peddlers on both sides of the debate, which is why I’m not looking forward to the referendum when it comes.

  • The EU flag was approved in 1955 by the Council of Europe (that is not the EU) that was created and run by Churchill at that time. Then in 1985 our democratically elected leaders in all the then EU member states decided that we are going to have it as an EU flag. no conspiracy involved!! tell that to the UK propaganda press!!!

  • @Dan “There are myth peddlers on both sides of the debate, which is why I’m not looking forward to the referendum when it comes.”

    Agree totally, particularly as I do see a need for a vote before we commit to further integration and the implications on sovereignty. However, I would widen it to ‘ALL sides’, as the other EU members, particularly France and Germany are and will not be impartial or passive participants in the UK debate.

  • Antony Hook concludes :
    “As Giles says the proposal is that people should be given a choice.”
    But of course Liberal Democrats are the party opposed to giving people choice. This is typical LD cart before horse thinking. Why ‘splatter’ all and sundry legal documents with an EU logo of any kind, if the 2017 referendum goes against staying in the EU, and then incur the expense of taking all the logos off again?
    Better to get the referendum sorted first, so we know where we are, before the expense of all this documentation updating surely? Or do politicians just enjoy wasting tax money for its own sake?

  • “In fact, the Commission simply proposed (back in April) that EU countries recognise each other’s basic documents –such as birth, marriage or company certificates – without the need for translations and special stamps. It also proposed offering people the option of a standard format European certificate when registering a birth or marriage, so they don’t have to translate their documents elsewhere in the EU.”

    Dosn’t the former mean there is no need for the latter?

    Of course there might be a potential saving. This is the classic argument of centralising bureacracies throughout the ages, something we are quick to oppose in local government but then which gets forgotten by the more fanatic EU supporters in the Lib Dems when it comes to the EU.

  • Peter Chivall 13th Aug '13 - 2:04pm

    I would happily take the crest off and replace it with the EU flag. After all, we have the chance to vote on the EU Commission via the Parliamentary elections and via our national elected Governments. What choice do we have in who the next head of the House of Windsor might be?

  • Ian Eiloart 13th Aug '13 - 3:00pm

    I guess that being “given the option” to have a standard document might not mean that one doesn’t get a British document, too. Of course, there may be issues around offering two birth certificates, but it could be that the standard document is simply a certified copy.

  • Giles Goodall 13th Aug '13 - 4:37pm

    The point is to give people the option so they don’t have to go through the rigmarole of getting new versions of all their paperwork. As Martin says, passports have a standard format and you can put any symbol you want on them.

    The real scandal is the way this story was spun by a minister – who should know better – using every Europhobe hyperbole in the book. A proposal published months ago following a lengthy period of public consultation is very clearly not a ‘plot’!

  • @Ian Eiloart “there may be issues around offering two birth certificates, but it could be that the standard document is simply a certified copy.”

    Actually today you can get two birth certificates: the free ‘short’ version which is of little use and the chargeable ‘long’ version which is the one you need if you want to use the birth certificate for any thing official. As far as I can see there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a second chargeable option; the EU variant.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMike Read 29th May - 4:05pm
    Good poster. How can I download it?
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 29th May - 3:15pm
    The Labour Party rejected any Progressive Alliance and has always rejected deals with other parties, something the Liberal Democrats would have been well advised to...
  • User Avatarfrankie 29th May - 2:30pm
    John, The Labour manifesto offers hope. It also aims at the some of the least popular institutions in the country, the companies many of us...
  • User AvatarDenis Mollison 29th May - 2:10pm
    @Lorenzo A fair point, that we would be wiser to concentrate on a positive Lib Dem message, not going on about the views of other...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 29th May - 2:01pm
    Jo is one of the most attractive and eloquent personalities we have. She has sometimes concentrated her very understandable enthusiasm for issues that relate to...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 29th May - 1:41pm
    I honestly am now at the moment of almost despair at the lack of ability of some on a Liberal and , very notable ,...