Anger over Euro flag furore

MERCHANT Navy members have reacted with fury to plans to replace the Union Jack with the European emblem on the Red Ensign.A Spanish MEP has managed to slip an amendment into new European Commission maritime proposals requiring ships to display the European gold stars circle emblem in a corner of their flags.

MERCHANT Navy members have reacted with fury to plans to replace the Union Jack with the European emblem on the Red Ensign.

A Spanish MEP has managed to slip an amendment into new European Commission maritime proposals requiring ships to display the European gold stars circle emblem in a corner of their flags.

But the suggestion that the flag of the British Merchant Navy should be Europeanised has been met with outrage among Merchant Navy veterans in Essex.

Kate Wilson, secretary of the Harwich and District Merchant Navy Association, said she has been inundated with phone calls from members since news of the proposal got out.


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"They're absolutely furious that they're going to try and mess our flag up. That flag goes back hundreds of years. It's just not on."

Mrs Wilson is going to write to Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP for the Eastern Counties, and to Harwich MP Ivan Henderson.

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The chairman of the National Merchant Navy Association Walton-on-the-Naze branch, Brian Gray, said he is going to raise the matter at his group's national annual general meeting todayin Birmingham.

"They won't get away with it. It's totally out of order. To me, it's our flag and that's what it should be."

Conservative MEPs are fighting to throw the suggestion out before it becomes part of EU law.

Mr Van Orden said: "We will ensure it does not happen. It's a typical bit of EU madness and there's no question of this being allowed to go ahead."

"We will oppose it at every step," he added.

Mr Van Orden said the group will try to vote out the proposal at the plenary session of the European Parliament. If that fails Mr Van Orden said he is sure the European Council will overrule it.

The maritime proposals are designed to improve shipping safety by tightening and streamlining EU-wide registration rules for cargo and passenger vessels using European waters.

But Spanish Green MEP Josu Ortuondo Larreawanted more done to make shipping more easily identifiable at sea – hence his amendment.

Mr Ortuondo said: "This would be a powerful symbol, displaying across the world the existence of a European Union set to approve a Constitutional Treaty and adopt its own legal personality."

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