Sometimes, Brussels makes me despair!

HERE'S more nonsense from the European Union to make Eurosceptics choke on their Coco Pops this morning. That grandiloquent cadre of civil servants driving forward the federalism of the European Union has excelled itself this time.

Graham Dines

HERE'S more nonsense from the European Union to make Eurosceptics choke on their Coco Pops this morning. That grandiloquent cadre of civil servants driving forward the federalism of the European Union has excelled itself this time.

Just before fleeing Brussels for the beaches of Crete, Madeira, and Sicily, they issued guidelines for the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS, for the French nomenclature d'unit�s territoriales statistiques), geocode standard for referencing the administrative divisions of countries for statistical purposes - even though NUTS divisions “do not necessarily correspond” to administrative divisions within the country.

But however balmy they sound, NUTS, comprising three levels, are instrumental in the European Union's structural fund delivery mechanisms. They were invoked to enable the EU this month to offer finance for the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail route upgrade.

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It's a complex worldwide geographer's dream, enthusiastically endorsed and implemented by the EU.

A NUTS code begins with a two-letter code referencing the country, which is identical to the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code (except UK which is used to reference United Kingdom rather than GB).

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The subdivision of the country is then referred to with one number. A second or third subdivision level is referred to with another number each. Numbering starts with 1, as 0 is used for the upper level. In case the subdivision has more than 9 entities, capital letters are used to continue the numbering.

In addition to the full three levels for the European Union countries, all countries have a NUTS code with a two-letter code for a continent and two numbers for the country.

There are anomalies. Gibraltar is listed as being outside the EU with the code EO21 but French Guyana is listed twice, once in France as FR930 and once in South America as AS13.

NUTS are based on existing national administrative subdivisions. In countries where only one or two regional subdivisions exist, or where the size of existing subdivisions is too small, a second and/or third level is created.

This may be on the first level (eg France, Italy, Greece, and Spain), on the second (eg Germany) and/or third level (eg Belgium). In smaller countries, where the entire country would be placed on the NUTS 2 or even NUTS 3 level (eg. Luxembourg, Cyprus, Ireland), levels 1, 2 and or 3 are identical to the level above and or to the entire country.

The East of England is coded UKH under NUTS1. The region is then split into three for NUTS two - East Anglia becomes UKH1 and is subdivided between Peterborough (NUTS UKH11), Cambridgeshire (UKH12), Norfolk (UKH13) and Suffolk (UKH14); Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire is UKH2 and subdivided into Luton (UKH21), Bedfordshire (UKH22) and Hertfordshire (UKH23); and Essex is UKH3 with Southend-on-Sea UKH31.

Who better to ask to comment on this nonsense than David Campbell Bannerman, UKIP Euro MP for the East of England and the party's deputy leader. Understandably, he was not amused.

“This is yet another means of the EU undermining nation states by breaking up territorial integrity.

“It is sinister and premeditated, and smacks of the nightmarish '1984' scenario. While nominally for statistical purposes the true aim, as ever with the EU, is unashamedly political.

“The aim of regional bodies such as EERA, EEDA and regional NHS bodies, is to dispense with the need for national governments, with regions and sub-regions (unitaries) reporting directly to Brussels via the secretive Committee of the Regions.

“By destroying traditional nations and counties, the vital bonds that bind us together collectively are broken, and allow a loose Euro identity to take their place.”


THE European Commission is to investigate retail milk prices as the crisis in the dairy sector triggers a farmers' revolt. Prices to milk producers have halved since 2007 and are at an all-time low.

However, a report from the Commission has rejected farmers' demands to impose tougher production quotas and Brussels is to press ahead with plans already agreed by EU governments to end milk quotas entirely by 2015.

The Commission will back a series of measures to stabilise the milk market, including support for private storage of surpluses and the waiving of a December date for state aids or market-rate loans to tide farmers over. Two-thirds of such payments can now be handed out from mid-October

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said: “We have to do all we can to help our milk producers. We will continue to use all the measures we possess to stabilise the market," said Ms Fischer Boel. "But, as clearly stated by the European Council (EU governments), we will not reverse our policy of gently phasing pout quotas.”

The Commission has been working for years to streamline the Common Agricultural Policy and end the notorious milk lakes and butter mountains generated by decades of open-ended support for farm production regardless of demand.

Tory MEP for the East of England Robert Sturdy said: "We cannot return the EU to butter mountains and milk lakes and the current situation shows just how misguided past policies on milk has been.

“I fully welcome the European Commission's promise to eliminate milk quotas by 2015. Right now a pint of milk sells at nearly half the price of a litre of water; this is absurd. The present system we have in place has resulted in a milk industry far more vulnerable to price fluctuations.

“What we should be doing is liberalising the market and encouraging producers to find new and innovative methods of marketing their products.”


ANOTHER East of England Tory MEP Geoffrey Van Orden said he was “delighted” to have been able to play a part in securing nearly �1m in European funding to help consolidate the fish processing industry in Lowestoft. .

“This will create jobs, promote the local fishing industry and act as a real boost for the local community,” said Mr Van Orden.


This column is taking a summer break and will be back in September.

On its return, an updated version will appear on the EADT web site at noon each Friday to give results from local authority by-elections. These provide an indication of how the nation will vote at the General Election, which must be held by June 3 2010.


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