Brexit and EU bans on bananas

European Union rules on the shape of bananas have long been a symbol in Britain of the red tape imposed by technocrats in Brussels (AFP Photo/Arun Sankar)
Remi Banet

London (AFP) - Bananas, kettles and vacuum cleaners -- campaigners for Britain to leave the EU warn that even the most mundane things are subject to rules made in Brussels as they urge voters to "take back control".


European Union rules on the shape of bananas have long been a symbol in Britain of the red tape imposed by technocrats in Brussels, but the campaign for the June 23 referendum has sparked fresh claims of interference.

"So do you agree with this EU regulation which sets out how shops should sell bananas?" tweeted the Vote Leave campaign this week.

Leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, had earlier told a crowd that "it is absurd that we are told that you cannot sell bananas in bunches of more than two or three".

"You cannot sell bananas with abnormal curvature," he added, saying this was one of the "pointless" rules that are "holding back this country".

The EU has no ban on straight or bendy bananas or on how many can be sold in a bunch, although bananas are classified by quality and size so they can be traded internationally.

European Commission regulation 2257/94 states that the fruit must be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature". Class 1 bananas can have "slight defects of shape" and Class 2 bananas can have "defects of shape".

Vacuum cleaners

Another rallying cry for eurosceptics, the vacuum cleaner, is subject to rules on energy consumption.

"The EU has also taken control of the household appliances your family can use," claims Vote Leave on its website.

"It has banned high-powered vacuum cleaners. Brussels also plans to outlaw British toasters and kettles."

Earlier this month, the anti-EU Daily Express tabloid splashed the issue on its front page under the headline: "Now EU want to ban our kettles".

The reality is a little more complicated. From next year, the EU will impose a limit of 900 watts on vacuum cleaners, down from 1,600 at the moment.

"No decision has been taken -- or is scheduled -- to put forward new rules for kettles or toasters," the European Commission said in a recent blog post.

The conservative Daily Telegraph newspaper suggested that Brussels has simply postponed the introduction of application of the new rules to these appliances to avoid antagonising Britons ahead of the referendum.

Blowing up balloons

Johnson has also revived the claim, first circulated five years ago, that children under the age of eight cannot blow up a balloon on their own.

At the time, the European Commission said children were not banned, only that it recommended they be supervised by an adult while blowing up certain types of balloons to avoid risk of injury.