Archive for category Europe

Population dense

Yet again, the Daily Mail runs a story about an increase in immigration rates. Yet again, they bring up the fact that England has a high population density. (Edit: The part about population has been split into its own article now.)

I’ll leave it to other, more talented bloggers to comment on how accurate the immigration figures are (Edit: Hooray Exclarotive and Five Chinese Crackers!). I just want to say something about this population density canard.

Their statistics were released on the day it was revealed that England is now the most overcrowded country of the 27 in the European Union.

It has more people per square mile than the Low Countries, which has long been the most densely populated region of the continent, MPs have been told.

Only tiny Malta, an island city state with a population no bigger than that of Bristol, has greater population pressure in Europe.

(Edit AGAIN: Five Chinese Crackers points out that the Dutch population density is much, much higher than England’s if you adjust for inland seas and lakes.)

Firstly of course, England is not one of the 27 EU countries, the UK is. The population density of the UK as a whole, according to the Guardian currently 256.3 people per square kilometre, is still lower than that of Belgium or the Netherlands, and since farms, reservoirs and power stations in Wales and Scotland (and to a lesser extent, Northern Ireland) provide to consumers in England as well, quoting the figures just for England and claiming that number is unsustainable is a bit misleading. One might as well look at the population density figures for North and South Holland – provinces of the Netherlands – which have 976 and 1,227 people per square kilometre respectively, over double that of England’s 402.1 people per square kilometre. Île-de-France région has 973.5 people per square kilometre. Canton of Geneva, a Swiss republic, has a 1,607 people per kilometre.* Clearly if you just give figures for part of an economy, cutting out the areas that include the bulk of the farmland or wilderness, you’ll get answers that don’t necessarily reflect a region’s ability to support itself.

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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.

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Express EU scare story is bullshit shocker

NOW the Express warns readers “Now Brussels wants MOTs every two years“.

ANNUAL MOTs for cars could be scrapped under Brussels-led proposals to harmonise safety checks across Europe.

Bureaucrats want Britain to adopt a system in which MOTs are done only every two years.

That doesn’t make sense – the EU is bringing in these regulations to make roads safer, so why would they stop anyone from having a more regular MOT?

Well, let’s have a look at what the EU actually said (PDF, p. 14).

Member States may: (a) bring forward the date for the first compulsory roadworthiness test and, where appropriate, require the vehicle to be submitted for testing prior to registration; (b) shorten the interval between two successive compulsory tests;

In other words, the four years – two years thing is the bare minimum. We’re still allowed to have our annual MOTs, and in fact, we’re probably making Brussels rather happy by doing so.

So the Express story was nothing but a complete lie. Oh wow, what a surprise.


This EU scare story smells off

There’s something I kind of love about how certain newspapers always start their headlines with “NOW”. The word is always completely pointless grammatically and logically – after all, anything you see in a newspaper can reasonably be assumed to have happened “NOW”, rather than at any other time – but it always conjures up a vision of someone watching this great vista of petty human misery pan past on a conveyor belt, à la The Generation Game. “NOW even PATIOS will need planning permission! And NOW Eurocrats tell drivers to keep car lights on all day! And NOW sparrowhawks stop people from smoking! And NOW Muslims demand full Sharia law! And NOW GPs will be paid to encourage girls to have sex! And NOW they want dads to learn how to breastfeed! And NOW a cuddly toy!”

Of course, the great benefit of the word is that even if the story itself turns out to be utter bollocks – the story about GPs being paid to tell girls to have sex is actually about GPs being paid to promote long-term contraceptives over other less reliable types, for instance – you imagine there must have been some great build up of things that were almost as bad happening in the past. Of course not all Muslims actually are demanding Sharia law, and the few that are have been demanding it for years (though without the same media visibility that the topic has had lately), but if you say NOW Muslims are demanding Sharia, it sounds like this is the latest in a long line of unspecified impossible demands from British Muslims.

Anyway, NOW the Express has the headline “NOW the EU wants to stop us labelling our milk fresh“.

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TaxPayers’ Alliance says jump, Express says ‘How high?’

Red tape

Some very sparkly EU red tape.

Sorry, this is going to be a very dry post today. I mean, unless you enjoy poring over lists of Government regulations in which case this will be your favourite blog post on the entire interweb.

The Express, and only the Express, today leads with “UK’s £10bn bill for EU red tape“. Clearly we’ve been buying a lot of tape.

The typical rent-a-quotes are out in force in this article; Philip Davies MP says:

“The vast majority of businesses don’t have any dealings with the EU. It’s particularly galling that they have to bear the costs of the regulations. When people realise how much the EU costs they will come to the conclusion that we would be better off out.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (whoops, wrong link) meanwhile pops in to add:

“The cost of the red tape now exceeds the value of the business it is intended to regulate. It’s sheer madness, and not why we joined in the first place.”

Firstly, if you think the entirety of the British economy is now worth less than £10 billion, you are probably not a reliable source of economic information. Secondly, this article is oddly long on anger, short on facts.

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