LONDON – Britain has claimed progress in its fight to win back powers from Brussels after a small victory over flying the EU flag – only to see its win dismissed by an EU official.
Communities minister Eric Pickles on Monday announced in parliament that a "petty" piece of European Union red tape requiring all government buildings to fly the bloc's flag had been removed.
"The last Labour government signed up to a petty EU regulation that forced my and other Government departments to fly the European flag outside our buildings," he said.
"I can announce today that we have renegotiated this. Moving forward, this burdensome law to fly the EU flag has now gone.
"This small step shows our nation can and should claim powers back from Brussels."
However, the European Commission rained on Pickles' parade by retorting that it had never been law in the first place.
"We have a flexible approach to how the authorities who help to manage European funds inform the public about what they are doing," said Shirin Wheeler, the commission's spokeswoman for regional policy.
"We leave it up to member states to decide how they want to display the European emblem. We aren't too dogmatic about how that is done, sticker on a door will do," she explained.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU ahead of an in-out referendum by 2017, although he has yet to set out his red lines. AFP