Wrong, I’m afraid


I am assuming that the image above is meant to symbolise the result of the EU referendum in the UK. The UK leaving the EU is shown as one of the 12 stars disappearing from the EU flag, in the form of a tear.

Many people assume that the 12 stars in the EU flag represent the time when there were 12 countries in the EU. This is not so. The EU flag has

  •  a blue background symbolising the sky
  • twelve stars symbolising perfection and unity
  • a circle symbolising union

It was chosen in 1955 and has been used since 1986. Although the EU did have 12 member states in 1986, the number of stars has never had anything to do with the number of states in the EU.

Part of my job is to prepare people for EU work – as part of an EU Presidency, or prior to being posted to Brussels, for example. I find that very few people know about the Schuman plan, or details about the different countries in the EU. Or how the EU works, for that matter.

From Wikipedia:

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 23.53.38

Another big faux pas which appeared in the newspapers was this one, from the New York Post. Can you spot the error?

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 11.32.59

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. England and Wales voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t. While the outside world frequently conflates ‘England’ and the ‘UK’, they are very different things.

    As a Europhile, I was delighted to see so many people waving this flag during London Pride yesterday. Despite the appalling referendum result.

    And you’re right. The average UK voter is woefully ignorant of the EU and how it works. As a child in Ireland, we had to learn about its institutions and operations. Why it isn’t the same here in the UK amazes me. How can you make an informed choice about something so significant when you don’t understand what you’re voting about?

    1. Embarrassingly, the last time Sweden held the Presidency of the EU, they had written Great Britain instead of UK in all the information brochures about the member states. In many other documents they had written England instead of the UK.

      I guess though, it is the same as Scandinavia. Scandinavia only consists of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic countries are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland plus all their associated territories such as Greenland (which, interestingly, was the first country to leave the EU), but many people incorrectly talk of Scandinavia as either one country or as all of them. Or they talk about Africa as a country rather than 53 very different countries.

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