Eurofile: Double deckers overtaken by myth

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BRITAIN'S obsessively anti-European Union newspapers (such as The Sunday Times, Evening Standard, and Daily Mail) delight in telling their readers how the British way of life is threatened by plotting 'Brussels Bureaucrats'. The Mail was at it again yesterday with a front page that screamed: 'Brussels to scrap double-deckers'.

The article said that the EU wants to replace Britain's and Ireland's double-deckers with Eurocoaches, which have more standing room. There would be 25 per cent fewer seats on the new buses, with the result that handicapped and elderly customers would have difficulty finding a seat. When this Euromyth appeared last February it was flatly denied by the Commission, which published one of its series of fact sheets entitled 'Euromyths and Misunderstandings.'

The fact-sheet points out that 'Britain's double-decker buses are not in danger' and 'reports that European laws are going to outlaw these were poorly researched'. After a series of fatal bus accidents late last year the EU is trying to improve protection for bus and coach passengers on European- style city buses. A separate annexe will cover double-decker buses once the UN's Economic Commission for Europe sets new international standards.

WIM KOK, leader of the Dutch Labour Party, began putting together a 'purple' coalition government (Labour 'reds' and conservative 'blues') yesterday that will exclude the Christian Democrats from power for the first time in 50 years. The Labour Party, along with the right-wing Dutch Liberals (VVD) and the left-leaning Democrats 66 (D66), agreed on a coalition blueprint at the weekend after more than 100 days of negotiations. Mr Kok intends to trim public spending, in welfare as well as defence and education. Although he is a respected trade unionist and university lecturer with good human-rights credentials, he lacks charisma.

AFTER a nationwide outcry from politicians of all parties, two German judges at the centre of controversy over a ruling that showed understanding for a far-right leader's anti-Semitic views have been fired and will be replaced immediately. Judges Wolfgang Mueller and Rainer Orlet, who handed down a suspended sentence to Guenter Deckert, head of the National Democratic Party, were sacked by the presidium of the regional court in the south-western city of Mannheim. Mr Mueller had expressed his regret for the 'unfortunate phrasing' in the judgement but the apology came too late. Mr Deckert was given a one-year suspended sentence for incitement to racial hatred for his proclamation of the so-called 'Auschwitz lie', which is punishable under German law. But the judges had talked of him as a 'responsible character', with 'clear principles'. The presidium thought the judgement might 'create the impression that extreme-right and anti-Jewish attitudes are approved'.