Has the EU banned the crown symbol on UK pint glasses?

UK pint glasses will feature crown stamps again under new plans – but have they actually been banned by the EU?

In the past, British made pint glasses were designed with a small crown symbol.

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But what did the crown stamp mean, has the EU made it illegal as claimed, and what are the plans for imperial action?

A group of men enjoy a pint at the pub in 1963 (Reg Lancaster/Express/Getty Images)

What did the government say?

After weeks of speculation, the government has officially launched its plan to restore the crown symbol on pint glasses and allow companies to sell products in pounds and ounces.

The government statement said: “Post-Brexit plans to return the crown symbol to pint glasses and lift the EU ban on imperial action were set out today.

“In honor of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, new government guidance released today will help businesses display the crown symbol on pint glasses.”

It continues: “As early as 1698 British pint glasses intended for measuring and serving beer were marked with a crown stamp to declare that when the glass was filled to the brim or line gauge, a pint of beer was accurate dimensions

“The Krone brand gave customers the reassurance that they were not being sold too small a quantity of beer. But the symbol was replaced by the EU-wide ‘CE’ marking in 2006 to comply with EU regulations in the UK.”

What did the crown symbol mean?

The crown symbol was meant to show that consumers could trust the glass to measure a pint accurately and that they weren’t missing out.

In 2006, the crown symbol was largely abandoned by British manufacturers.

Has the crown symbol been banned by the EU?

There have been reports that the European Union has ordered the crown symbol to be removed from British pint glasses.

On May 29, the Mail on Sunday ran a front-page headline claiming: “18 years after the EU ordered us to remove the crown symbol from our pint glasses, Boris Johnson is bringing them back for the anniversary.”

However, this stretches the truth.

Although the EU introduced its own CE stamp with a similar meaning, and it was expected that pint glasses would bear this CE stamp, there was no rule that the crown stamp had to be removed.

CE stands for Conformité Européenne, which translated from French means “European Conformity”. A 2004 directive, effective from 2006, required every meter (including beer glasses) to have this CE mark to show it conformed to universal EU standards.

Article 7(3) allows this and reads: “Any other marking may be affixed to a measuring instrument provided that the visibility and legibility of the ‘CE’ marking and the supplementary metrology marking are not thereby compromised.”

Boris Johnson’s description of the restoration of the beer glass as “cutting EU red tape and bureaucracy and restoring common sense to our rulebook” is therefore something of a misrepresentation of the relevant EU directive.

An EU spokesman said the BBC that “EU law does not prohibit the affixing of markings to products as long as they do not overlap or are confused with the CE marking.”

Is the government bringing back imperial measures?

This announcement came with a similarly nostalgic promise to bring back Imperial measures.

The government has released a consultation on how best to reintegrate imperial measures, which it says will help “legislate to give companies more choice in the units they use”.

The consultation, which will last 12 weeks, “will help the government to consider, for example, selling vegetables in pounds only or in pounds with a less prominent metric equivalent, should businesses wish to do so”.

The statement went on to say, “There is no intention to require companies to change their existing practices and therefore this will not impose any major costs on companies.”

Business Secretary Paul Scully said: “Although we think of our fruit and vegetables by the pound, the legacy of EU rules means we are legally required to sell them by the kilo.”

Mr. Scully, born in 1968, is 54 years old. The metric system was introduced in the UK in 1965, eight years before the UK joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU) in 1973. Has the EU banned the crown symbol on UK pint glasses?


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