Always eager to break a story, the blog Guido Fawkes ran with this headline:
“EU Agrees Ban on Menthol Cigarettes”
As this story breaks, I am sure that you will see comparable headlines cropping up in newspapers across the UK.
The problem is, the story isn’t really true. At best it is preemptive. The EU simply has not banned menthol cigarettes.
So what has actually happened? The Council of Ministers has met and voted to support a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes (although some Ministers such as the Polish Minister has opposed the move). This proposal will not become law unless the European Parliament votes it through.
You might at this point think I am being a little bit over the top? A mere technicality you say!
But think of this another way. Would a UK publication run the headline, “British Parliament agrees ban on xxx” if in actual fact only the House of Lords (one third of the British Parliament) had actually voted on it? No, of course not, it would be wildly misleading.
So why the different approach for EU related affairs? The Council of Ministers makes up just one third of major EU institutions and yet publications run headlines claiming it represents the whole of the EU.
The difference is of course that most Brits don’t know what the Council of Ministers is, let alone what it does and so are incapable and unwilling to hold the papers and politicians to account.
The Council’s press release can be read here – https://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/lsa/137571.pdf
This article was cross-posted on Liberal Conspiracy.