Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East of England, wrote on 19 August that the flying of the British flag is “under threat” from a “pernicious EU regulation which compels EU member states to fly the EU flag outside government buildings”.
However, as Mr Ashworth will hopefully be aware, Article 7(2) of Regulation 1828/2006 in fact only compels those public authorities managing European Regional Development funding to fly the EU flag for one week a year coinciding with Europe Day on 9 May, in a manner similar to the display of the logo of lottery funders.
As should be clear to a long-standing Member of the European Parliament, It does not oblige other UK Government buildings to fly the European flag at all and in any case does not in any way “threaten” anyone’s ability to fly the Union Jack.
Separately, it should also be noted that the Regulation in question was adopted with the consent of the national Governments of all EU countries, which could have vetoed the proposal should there have been opposition in the national capitals.
There are many areas of the EU’s functioning that deserve legitimate criticism but misleading and highly selective reading of EU law to score cheap points only serve to make it more difficult to have a genuine and fact-based debate about our country’s future relationship with and in the European Union.