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Complainant Name:
European Commission (UK)

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Daily Telegraph

Complaint:

Antonia Mochan, Head of Media for the European Commission in the UK, complained that an article had claimed inaccurately that England had been “wiped off a map of Europe drawn up by Brussels bureaucrats”. In fact, the map originated in a Powerpoint presentation prepared by a civil servant for the purpose of explaining the workings of an EU funded programme.

Resolution:

The newspaper emphasised that the article was intended to be “reasonably light-hearted” to coincide with St George’s Day. It also made clear that the EU funded programme operated firmly under the auspices of the EC.

However, the newspaper agreed to alter the online version of the article to state that England had been “wiped off a map of Europe drawn up to explain the workings of Brussels bureaucrats”.

The complainant remained of the view that the article was inaccurate. However, she agreed to resolve the matter through the publication of the following statement on the PCC website setting out the European Commission’s position on the matter.

The European Commission believes that the article published by the Daily Telegraph on 23 April 2008 was misleading in its claim that Brussels bureaucrats had removed England from a map showing the workings of a cross-border organisation called Arc-Manche. The presentation that formed the basis of the article originated from someone working for Arc-Manche. Arc-Manche was set up by the local authorities on either side of the Channel and receives money from the European Union’s regional development fund. However, many hundreds, if not thousands, of organisations receive money from European Union programmes and the European Union cannot be held accountable for the materials that they produce.

It is true that a programme of cross-border co-operation had been agreed between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the full participation and agreement of local council and regions on both sides of the English Channel. This programme allows organisations to access European cross-border money and to come together to work on joint projects relating to the environment, the economy, transport and social issues. It is about helping businesses and the public sector profit from co-operation, where appropriate, in the interests of local people. It is certainly not about removing the border in any way, shape or form. Cross- border co-operation between south-east England and northern France has been supported by sovereign governments acting through the EU for over a decade and has always been extremely popular. Indeed, public bodies and organisations from Hampshire to Cornwall have asked to participate in the new funding round so that they can benefit as Sussex and Kent have done in the past. The programme that finances Arc-Manche is approved by all the countries of the EU and the European Parliament. Rather than an attempt to undermine national sovereignty, it seeks to strengthen the positive dynamic among regions which have strong links across a common border, whether land or sea.

Report: 77



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