Commission threat to impose bog standards is just a flash in the pan, says Brussels

Was it for this that we won the battle of, er, Waterloo? Let not the facts spoil a good Euro-scandal story

Paris

This was one Euroscandal that Brussels could not take sitting down. Reports that the European Commission intends to “regulate” toilet and urinal flushes have produced a storm of outrage and bad puns.

How dare Brussels try to impose bog standards on that great British institution, the loo? Could not the eurocrats do something more useful, such as straightening cucumbers or bending bananas? Was it for this that we won the battle of, er, Waterloo?

The European Commission, facing a chain reaction of outrage encouraged by, among others, Ukip, fought back yesterday.

Brussels was not trying to impose standard flush sizes across Europe, the Commission said. It was merely trying to establish the rules for ecologically friendly, water-saving measures to help consumers and promote cross-border trade in toilets and urinals. “This is about the criteria under which member states can award Ecolabel status to products,” said Joe Hennon, spokesman for the European Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik.

“If you don’t have criteria then consumers, businesses and local authorities who want to buy green products won’t know which product to choose. Quite apart from the many environmental benefits, Ecolabelled products bring direct cost savings to businesses and consumers, in this case in the form of lower water bills.”

In other words, the proposals put forwards by Brussels would set the rules under which toilet equipment could be sold as eco-friendly across the EU. They would not impose a harmonised cistern size from Orkney to Sicily.

Brussels has proposed that, to qualify for Ecolabel status, a urinal flush should be less than one litre and a toilet flush no more than six litres.

These proposals are roughly in line with what already happens in Britain. New toilets with more than a 6l flush are illegal and less than 6l is encouraged where possible.

But let not the facts spoil a good Euro-scandal story. Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of Ukip, said: “With over 26 million people unemployed in the EU, the European Commission has decided to concentrate on the vital issue of our time – flushing toilets and urinals.

“These people are taking the mickey, they are beyond parody. They have spent time and taxpayer money on ‘user behaviour’ at toilets and urinals. Taxpayers’ money is again needlessly flushed down the pan. Given the EU’s practice of enforcing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy, could this really mean that British men and women will be asked to squat over a continental ‘hole-in-the-ground’ toilet?”   

Beyond parody indeed.

THE BEST AND THE WORST TOILETS OF THE WORLD

Japan

Home to the world’s most sophisticated toilets. Features on so-called “super toilets” can include seat warming, deodorising options, massage capabilities, water jet adjustments, automatic lid opening, automatic flushing and wireless control panel. As of March 2010, 72 per cent of Japanese households were thought to have one.

China

It has the worst toilets in the world, according to a 2010 survey. In public toilets, it’s not unusual to find a dozen or so “squatters” (holes in the ground) in a row, with no dividing walls. The position one must adopt to use them is said to have health benefits, including as an effective treatment for haemorrhoids.

Antarctic

Everyone has to do it, even explorers, who carry a loo seat at all times. Making camp, they will dig a hole, place the seat on top and cover the setup with a pop-up tent. The door-flap is opened for ventilation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first ...

Recruitment Genius: .NET Web / Software Developer - ASP.NET

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small and agile digital marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Accountant

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A national firm of chartered ce...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders