We’ve all read them or heard them. Even Labour Party members quote them. They are the myths and legends that the media propagate about the European Union.

So here are some of the most regular myths, and the much-less interesting truth about why they aren’t true. So next time someone quotes one of the myths at you, you can tell them the truth.

The Straight Banana

The Myth – the EU wants to ban bananas that aren’t straight

The truth – no-one wants to ban bent bananas. The national governments of the various European countries, through the Council of Ministers, asked for bananas to be classified, so that shops knew what they were ordering. The retail industry asked for these classifications. A banana can still be as straight or curved as ever.

Britain pays a fortune to support the EU

The Myth – Britain pays more than any other country for the EU, and it costs each family £400 a year

The truth – A Daily Mail favourite, and one of the most common ideas quoted on the doorstep. Shame it isn’t true. In 2006 Britain paid 68 Euro per head, whereas the Dutch paid 241 Euro, Sweden 124 and Germany 100 Euro per head. And Britain received back nearly 50 Euro per head in structural funds.

Armed Euro police on the streets of Britain

The Myth – the Lisbon Treaty means Britain must have armed EU police officers on patrol on our streets

The truth – It’s nonsense. 5 EU member countries proposed a European Gendarmerie Force to work together in their countries. The EU has nothing to do with the idea, and it doesn’t affect Britain at all.

The EU wants to get rid of the mile

The Myth – the EU wants to make all our road signs show distances in kilometres

The truth – Britain has a permanent derogation, so our road signs will be in miles.

The EU wants to change Bombay Mix to Mumbai Mix

The Myth – the EU insists that the name be changed

The truth – this illustrates where myths sometimes come from. This story was made up by a news agency in Britain to drum up business with national newspapers. The Sun and the Mirror published the story without checking.

The EU wants to make Kent part of France

The Myth – the EU wants to force parts of Britain to become parts of the other EU countries, starting with Kent becoming part of France

The truth – another illustration of how these silly stories start. An EU programme called INTERREG was set up to help neighbouring regions in different countries work together to overcome common problems. One map showed the Transmanche region, of Kent, north-east France and Belgium. These areas share the English Channel and transport systems, so it makes sense for them to work together. A map of the scheme showed this group as a single area – and the myth was born that France was going to take over Kent!

The EU wants to ban 999

The Myth – the EU wants to have a single Euro emergency phone number, so 999 will be banned

The truth – 999 is safe. But if you’re in France and need to call for an ambulance, what number do you call? What’s the number in Greece, or Austria? The EU has agreed that AS WELL AS the local emergency number of 999 or whatever, there is a second number 118 that does the same job, but is the same throughout Europe. Sounds like a sensible idea to us.

All our laws come from Brussels

The Myth – our Parliament has to do what the EU says, and all our laws come from there now

The truth – The House of Commons Library researched this issue and Richard Corbett MEP quoted their answer in 2008 – only 9% of our laws come from the EU.

These are just some of the myths – for more information and many more myths, the European Commission website is useful:
http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/euromyths/index_en.htm