4 Apr 2016

Don't believe everything you read on the EU campaign

Yesterday I listened to a recent More or Less programme on the radio. It discussed a post that has been doing the Facebook rounds about EU regulations for selling cabbages that were 26,911 words long. 

Apparently this comparison of length has been around for at least half a century and an example had been found from America after World War 2: The US government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words. The list has also featured the government of France specifying the price of duck eggs, a British one referring to "shell eggs," and an American one (from 1953) about fresh fruits. All were supposedly of a very similar length.

The More or Less programme interviewed a cabbage grower in England who said there were currently no EU directives specifically for cabbages - there had been one in 2006, 3720 words long dealing with sizes, but this was repealed in 2009.  There is a 24,000 word long document dealing with how to get the best out of your crop, but that is a UK Red Tractor Assured Produce Standard and nothing to do with the EU.

So beware the use of statistics. Governments and administrative bodies have a history of being criticised for unnecessary bureaucracy and spending.  The EU may have some cumbersome processes, but so does the UK and other countries.

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