Tag Archive: UK

UK Politician Pushing for Vote on Leaving the EU

UK Member of Parliament Adam Afriyie is pushing for a referendum on whether or not the UK should leave the EU.  A referendum in the UK is a yes/no vote put to the people for their opinion on the subject so that the politicians know what the public opinion is on the proposed question.  Referendums are not binding on Parliament, despite the fact that they may represent the public’s opinion on the matter.  Afriyie is pushing for the referendum now so that there is time for negotiations before the next election, because he feels that the “EU member states would need to ‘accommodate’ British demands for reforms ‘if they wish us to remain’.”

TEU Article 50 sets forth the procedure for a member state to leave the EU.  (To find Article 50 in the text, use the search function in your browser to locate the article).  According to Article 50(1) the UK may leave by the requirements of its own constitution.  Article 50(2) provides that the “Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”  This provision indicates that prior to the UK’s leaving, both the EU and the UK would consider the possible future relationships between the former member state and the Union.  This provision might ease some of the worries of British citizens who fear the financial and societal repercussions of leaving the EU.

Whether leaving the European Union is truly in the best interests of the British people is a question for their government to decide, but under current EU law, it is possible for the UK to leave using the procedures set forth in the Article.

Scotland: Independence and EU Membership

An imminent issue is whether Scotland, if it becomes independent, would automatically keep its European Union membership after seceding from the UK. This issue is being raised because there are clear accession rules as to how a State can join and withdraw from the European Union.

Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, announced his plans to hold a referendum in the fall of 2014 about Scotland leaving the UK and gaining independence. This announcement by Salmond created conflict between Edinburgh and London. Scotland and England were joined by the Act of Union, passed in 1707, which created the UK (which also includes Wales and Northern Ireland). As of today, the head of state of Scotland is Queen Elizabeth II and Scotland has its own government, legal system, and legislature along with representatives in the UK Parliament. The British government has stated that Scotland’s powers do not include constitutional issues and, therefore, a referendum on independence would be illegal. Regardless, the referendum would push the British government to meet with the Scottish government to further discuss the issue of Scotland’s plan for independence.

“A new state, if it wants to join the European Union, has to apply to become a member of the European Union like any state,” said European Commission President, Barroso. To join the EU, the applicant country must meet membership conditions (which include a free-market economy, a stable democracy and the rule of law, and the acceptance of all EU legislation, including of the euro), and then implement all EU rules and regulations. The process is explained in Article 49 of the TFEU. All current EU States must agree that the applying State may join the EU.

In addition to the legal and political issues surrounding Scotland’s independence, Scotland will face other obstacles trying to gain EU membership. The Scottish National Party (SNP) believes that Scotland will keep its current EU membership after its breakaway from the UK. Regional entities do not retain “special status under EU law”. Scotland now has imputed EU membership because the UK is an EU member state and Scotland is a regional entity of the UK. If Scotland secedes from the UK then it will no longer have EU membership and will have to apply for membership like any other county. Obtaining EU membership may be difficult for Scotland because Scotland would need the approval of the current member states including the UK. How likely is this? One cannot predict whether the UK would block Scotland’s entrance into the EU.


Fruits and Vegetables are Good For You, Pretty or Ugly

UK grocery stores are stocking their shelves with odd-looking vegetables and produce this season following a horrible growing season.

This past growing season has been characterized as one of the driest Marches and one of the wettest Junes in almost six decades, which has reduced the fruit and vegetable harvest in UK by more than 25% compared to previous seasons. As a result, some grocery stores cannot provide attractive, blemish-free fruits and vegetables to their consumers. This growing season’s vegetables had been described by The Guardian as “Knobbly carrots, wonky spuds, bent courgettes and discoloured cauliflowers.”

UK grocery stores and fruit and vegetable distributors are governed by the European Union food regulations. The Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 543/2011 details the rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 in respect to fruits and vegetables and processed fruits and vegetables. Regulation (EU) No 543/2011 outlines the specific marketing standards for many fruits and vegetables and the General Marketing Standard that applies to other fruits and vegetables. The specific standards fall in line with the internationally agreed UNECE standards. According to the EU regulations, fruits and vegetables sold in the UK must be intact, sound, clean, free from pest, free from damage, free of abnormal external moisture, free of any foreign smell/taste, be able to withstand transport, be able to meet maturity requirements, and other factors.

Grocery stores in the UK usually increase their own standards on which fruits and vegetables that they will allow to be sold in their stores. But, Sainsbury has “relaxed its rules” of the cosmetic factors of their fruits and vegetables. Food that otherwise would have been rejected is now in the produce section. “The unpredictable weather this season, has left growers with bumper crops of ugly-looking fruit and vegetables with reported increases in blemishes and scarring, as well as shortages due to later crops. We’ve committed to make use of all fruit and veg that meets regulation and stands up on taste, and hope customers will help us all make the most of the British crop in spite of its sometimes unusual appearance,” said Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s food. Morrisons and Waitrose, other supermarkets, have also “relaxed” their standards.

Grocery stores, like Sainsbury, are being praised by groups, such as the UK Soil Association and food and poverty campaigners, because in the past good fruit and vegetables have been rejected because of its appearance. Fruits and vegetables with blemishes and discolor do not fewer nutrients than ‘pretty’ fruits and vegetables. The UK Soil Association estimated that 20-40% of produce grown in the UK are rejected, which the  food and poverty campaigners are labeling as food waste.

Even though it was environmentally forced, supermarkets in the UK are creating less food waste by not placing so much weight on the aesthetics of the fruits and vegetables that they sell in their stores.



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