EU does something involving motorists, Daily Express explodes

Perhaps I should just rename this blog “Lies the Daily Express tells every damn day about the EU” and be done with it.

Now EU plans to make our roads pay as you go” they tell us today, which is a shame because you get unlimited internet access and 500 free minutes on contract.

MOTORISTS could be squeezed for millions in crippling toll charges if EU chiefs seize control of Britain’s roads and motorways.

European Commission bureaucrats are plotting to merge the UK’s main traffic routes with those on the Continent to form a transport network under their control.

The EC has already agreed to launch the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) on all current the stretch of M4 over the Severn Bridge.

Sounds like a bad prequel to some dystopian postcyberpunk epic.

In actual fact, of course, the EU does not plan to become the Darth Vaders of the road network. All they want to do is upgrade the computer systems on the Severn Bridge so they’re compatible with toll collection systems across the EU, making things slightly easier for haulage firms who carry things across the Channel.

The Express clearly knows this, since buried in the last paragraph is this:

The Trans-European Transport Network allows the UK to bid for funding for transport projects but does not give the EU any control over UK roads

and this:

“We have ruled out charging for existing roads and any decisions on this matter are for the UK Government to make.”

Also, the copyediting in this article is appalling. Try to make sense of this sentence:

By creating a motorways, perhaps even renaming them E-roads, as well as busy highways and city centres.

or this:

All transport matters in the European Parliament are decided by majority voting. If member states market, the UK will be pressured to join.

It looks like this article had been chopped from somewhere else and messily hacked to bits, but I can’t find the original source, though I did find this UKIP blog post where they apparently fail to understand that the M6 Toll relief road is not the same as the M6 proper. Speaking of UKIP…

Mike Nattrass, UKIP transport spokesman and a member of the EU’s Transport and Tourism Committee, said: “Motorists avoid the M6 toll and use other roads to avoid the expensive toll charges, so where is the common sense in the EU’s plans? The EU has no right to interfere with our history and traditions by changing the name of our roads.”

Because M4 and A1 (M) are so historic and traditional. Anyway, Britain’s roads have been part of the “Euroroutes” scheme for ages, and their names haven’t changed; the M8, M74 and so on are part of the E05 route, but they’re still called the M8 and the M74. And, once again, the EU is not making any new toll roads, it’s simply making existing ones slightly easier to use.

Cash from the EETS and other money-spinning schemes will be ploughed into the EU’s controversial Galileo satellite navigation programme.

No, cash from EETS goes to Severn River Crossing Plc, just as tolls collected any other way do. And why is the Express bringing Galileo up? This scheme has nothing to do with satellite navigation or road pricing. Surely the Express isn’t just trying to scare people into thinking they’ll use satellites to track motorists’ positions and mileage, right?

Eurocrats want to track motorists’ positions and mileage to calculate their toll charges.

Nope, I’m still pretty sure they just want to make the Severn Bridge slightly easier to use.

So yeah. It’s a terrifying story, as long as you don’t look at any of the facts.

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  1. #1 by wickedday on Sunday, 22nd August 2010 - 15:11 UTC

    Hey hey hey, there’s been a road where the A1 is for eight hundred years! Robin Hood used to ambush people on it. Although even if the road is historic, I guess the name isn’t, which pretty much proves your point. (If we still called it the Great North Road, that’d be a different matter.)

    And their copyediting reads like it’s been through Babelfish. Could that be a possibility? Some EU press release in French or German that’s been mangled beyond recognition?

  2. #2 by Mr T on Sunday, 22nd August 2010 - 21:01 UTC

    Look at the button-pushing language they use too. “EU chiefs seize control of Britain’s roads and motorways”. The use of “seize” to invoke a sense of threat – as ever with the Mail and Express the theme is that they’re with “us” the reader, while “them” is coming to invade “us”. One day it’s EU top brass screwing with our lovely British roads, the next it’s speed cameras taking our cash, next day it’s PC gone mad interfering with our wheelie bins, next day it’s brown people taking food out of our children’s mouths.

    The problem is it seems to work, and while the Express readership is dropping I’m dismayed that pushing people’s fear/anger buttons is such a workable tactic. The Express does come across as a junior version of the Mail – clumsy and unsubtle now, perhaps one day delivering more polished racism for their readers.

  3. #3 by Ralf Grahn on Monday, 23rd August 2010 - 9:49 UTC

    The hallmark of the style is public officials “plotting”, when instead this should be written into the editorial policy statement of the Daily Express (and perhaps a few other fine specimens of UK media).

    Small wonder that the public is uninformed and hostile to everything concerning the European Union.

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