Brexit: Expert discusses UK’s ‘vision’ and predictions
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Last month the Government said it would “capitalise on new freedoms” to mark the one-year anniversary of the Brexit trade agreement. As part of this effort to take back control, the Prime Minister pledged to “proudly” restore the Crown stamp on pint glasses. But the EU has denied having ever removed the right to feature the mark in the first place.
The Crown is believed to have been used to guarantee the size of pints and half-pints since 1699.
More than 300 years after this date, in 2007, its usage was phased out in Britain, despite protest by major players in the brewing and pub industry, including JD Wetherspoon’s Chairman Tim Martin and then-Punch Tavern Chief Executive Giles Thorley.
Following an EU directive, it was replaced by a bloc-wide “CE” mark.
This stands for “Conformité Européenne”, or “European Conformity”.
In a statement published in 2007 in the BBC by then-Trade Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, attempts were made to quash the disapproval of brewers.
He said: “Pint glasses which were marked with the Crown stamp and placed on the market before that date remain lawful.
“There is therefore no requirement to remove existing Crown-stamped glasses from use.”
Mr Fitzpatrick appeared to stop short of suggesting that the Crown stamp did not have to disappear from new glasses, too.
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But an EU Commission spokesperson claimed Britain has, for the past 15 years, got it wrong.
They told The BBC: “EU law does not prevent markings from being placed on products, so long as it does not overlap or be confused with the CE mark.”
This raises the question as to why, if the Crown stamp could have been used for all this time – albeit alongside the French marking – this was not made more clear (or, indeed, made known at all).
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Even Boris Johnson’s promise of “proudly restoring the Crown stamp” on glasses falls short of a full pint.
The Government states that, from 2023, “the UKCA mark must be used for placing goods on the GB market”.
This stands for “UK Conformity Assessed” – similar to the former EU “CE” mark.
The use of the Crown on pint glasses looks likely – despite the “restoration” claim – only to be “voluntary”.
Former Brexit Minister Lord Frost said in September last year: “[The Government] will permit the voluntary printing of the Crown Stamp on pint glasses.”
The Crown stamp will return, but only by half measure.
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