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I'll drink to that: Three EU myths about booze

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

In this blog post series, we delve into some of the most interesting, weird, funny and persistent myths about the EU. This time we are looking into booze myths. Here at You&EU we of course only support responsible drinking.... but naturally we are invested in any 'interference' with our favourite schnapps. For your delight and delectation, here are our favourite EU myths related to what may be Europe’s most cherished way of spending pastime.

1. ‘Hands off our light ale’

This golden oldie of a Euromyth still lingers around in different pubs around the continent, but of course, particularly the UK. Back in 2005, the Daily Mail reported that the EU wanted to force breweries to change the name of light ales as it was considered to be misleading for consumers who might think of this type of beer to be low in calories or alcohol. However, in the same year the European Commission stated that it has no such intention for light ales as it was clear that the name referred to the colour of the beer (as is the case for dark ale). Instead, the legislation was aimed at misleading slogans such as ‘90% fat free’.

2. ‘Hands off our barmaids’ boobs’

Around the same time as myth #1, a different Euromyth came about which was equally concerned about the EU keeping its bureaucratic hands off… well, ehm, something else that seems to be tied to the experience of a bar going European. As the Sun writes in August 2005, ‘penpushers have deemed it a HEALTH HAZARD for bar girls to show too much cleavage’. The reported health hazard in question referred to EU rules on optical radiation with the aim of reducing risks to skin and retina damage for employees working in the sun all day, such as waiting staff. Public concerns were particularly voiced in regard to keeping the tradition of the Dirndl during the Bavarian October Fest. The proposed directive on optical radiation was voted down by European Parliament in September 2005. While the proposed legislation did indeed require employers to carry out risk assessments for sun damage, it did not ban low-cut tops. The directive was voted down as MEPs thought it was more appropriate to let national authorities deal with risks of sun damage in the workplace instead.

3. Banning pub language

In an even more extreme EU myth, different British news outlets reported that the EU was out to ban using the terms ‘love’ or ‘darling’ to talk to bar staff with the aim of promoting gender equality. Writing about this piece of EU legislation in 2005 The Sun states ‘it was dreamed up by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and is now being imposed on Britain without parliamentary debate of division’. While there are certainly EU rules to prevent discrimination in the workplace, there are no such rules which determine whether ‘love’ or ‘darling’ are appropriate terms to use to speak to your favourite member of staff at your local pub.

This blog post is part of a series on EU myths.

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