The European Commission (EC) declined to comment on Lord Justice Leveson’s report into the culture, practice and ethics of the press yesterday (November 29), despite one of its officials claiming in the summer that the British media often misrepresented European policies on food, farming and other topics.
An EC spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The European Commission has never expressed any position on the Leveson report, which is a matter for the UK. In July, we said we were awaiting the results – like everyone else.
“Our London office has for about 20 years used our well-known Euromyths site − and its print predecessor − to try to correct media stories we believe to be inaccurate or misleading. This has nothing to do with Leveson.”
The EC’s political officer in London, Marie-Madeleine Kanellopoulou, told the Provision Trade Federation Lunch in London on July 3 2012 that EU policy was often misrepresented by the euro-sceptic British media.
“We are following the Leveson inquiry to see the outcome,” she said. “In the UK we have to deal with a very euro-sceptical British public and that’s not helped by the hostile audience in the tabloid press.”
Kanellopoulou said: “We want to engage with the media, with stakeholders and with non governmental organisations.” But repeated mis-representation in the media was making communication of the true facts about EU policy difficult, she added.
The EC official said the London office had set up a Euro-myths section (about 20 years ago) on its website to document inaccuracies about the reporting of EU policy in the British media.
An example of ‘euro-myths’ identified by the London team included reports that EU rules banned the reuse of jam jars and allowed the use of pets and strays in animal experiments. Another refuted the claim made in The Daily Express that EU wanted to merge the UK with France.
“We are trying to rebut EU myths in the press but it is not easy because the Press Complaints Commission has a limited remit.”
The spokesman added today: “The Commission is surprised that remarks made at an industry event in July have been taken out of context five months later to produce a story on the day of publication of the report.”
Meanwhile, Leveson’s eight month inquiry into press practices , reported its findings yesterday.
He recommended the introduction of tougher self-regulation supported by legislation to guarantee press standards.
Leveson said: “There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist.
“This has caused real hardship, and on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained.”
Prime minister David Cameron told the House of Commons yesterday, he generally welcomed the Leveson report. But he said he had "serious concerns and misgivings" about introducing laws in connection with any new press regulatory body.
- In a jam over non-existent EU rules. "Recent media coverage on reusing jars for homemade jams for sale at charity events certainly fired up the imagination of the headline writers: ‘EU elf ‘n safety tsars ban jam sales at fetes’ and ‘anger spreads over EU fines threat for reusing old jam jars’, ‘EU fine for homemade jam makers’. This is all completely untrue. There are no EU laws, new or old, which ban re-using old jam jars for fetes. The EU also has no powers to fine people."
- Pets and strays to be used in animal experiments. “Some papers are claiming that EU rules will allow the use of pets and strays in animal experiments. This is not true and below we set out why.The origin of stray and feral animals of domestic species is unknown, which reduces their scientific value when used in procedures. In addition, they are not familiar with a laboratory environment, inducing unnecessary distress and suffering. Therefore, for scientific, animal welfare and ethical reasons they should not be used in scientific procedures. In line with that, Directive 2010/63/EU contains a prohibition on the use of stray and feral animals in procedures.”
- Britain to merge with France. Letter to the Daily Express in response to claims that the EU wanted to merge the UK with France. ‘Dear Sirs, We are as surprised as your readers to hear that your newspaper believes the EU wishes to merge Britain and France. The suggestion that the ‘EU wants to merge UK with France’, 2nd May, is absurd, and of course, untrue. There is no proposal to create a new cross-channel region. What exist (and have done for 10 years) are a number of cross-border programmes aimed at things like boosting jobs and looking after the environment ... ’
Source: Euro-myths EU website