Bonfire of the EU laws: From crooked cucumbers to powerful vacuum cleaners, the barmy Brussels regulations the UK can now get rid of

By Amie Gordon

• Historic EU referendum saw Britain voting to leave the European Union
• Leave voters across the country are celebrating the referendum result
• Country will leave behind a network of laws and regulations set by the EU

As the UK reflects in the wake of the EU referendum, Leave voters are celebrating changing the course of history and breaking free from the shackles of the European Union - and its laws and regulations.

Despite the fact Britain has voted in favour of leaving the EU, this is still the start of a long process before the country officially untangles from the network of institutions in Brussels.

And among that network there were a number of bizarre - and some argued trivial - rules the Brussels bureaucracy passed.

Here are some of the more bizarre regulations the Brexiters can enjoy saying goodbye to.

1. Ban on curvy bananas and crooked cucumbers

A 1994 EU regulation specified that cucumbers needed to be straight. Photo / AP
A 1994 EU regulation specified that cucumbers needed to be straight. Photo / AP

The first - and one which reared its head as the Brexit and Remain camps drew up their battles lines - was the banana regulation.

An example often cited as 'legislative heavy-handedness' was the EU ban on 'bendy bananas' and crooked cucumbers.

A 1994 EU regulation specified that bananas must be 'free from abnormal curvature'.

EU rules also governed the shape of many other fruits and vegetables - cucumbers, for example, needed to be almost perfectly straight.

Many of these specifications were abolished in 2008, though the banana guidelines remain on the books.

Just days ago, Boris Johnson became embroiled in a bizarre row over EU rules on how bananas should be sold.

The strange row was triggered by comments Mr Johnson made as he took his referendum bus tour to the Midlands ahead of the vote.

Delivering a stump speech to a crowd in Stafford, Mr Johnson said: "If we take back control on June 23, we can also get rid of so much of the pointless rules and regulations that are holding back this country.

"It is absurd that we are told you cannot sell bananas of bunches of more than two or three bananas. You cannot sell bananas with abnormal curvature of the fingers. Why should they tell us?

"Why should they tell us how powerful our vacuum cleaners should be? Why should they tell us how powerful our hairdryers should be?

"This is not a matter for an international, supranational body to dictate to the British people."

2. Incandescent lightbulbs

Something else that could now make a return is the incandescent lightbulb.

Incandescent bulbs have been phased out in stages in the UK since 2009 following European regulations.

The Government banned the import of 100-watt bulbs from 2009, followed by a ban on 60w bulbs in 2011 and a full ban on all 'traditional' bulbs in 2012.

The bulbs were branded environmentally-unfriendly because some 95 per cent of the energy that goes into them gets turned into heat rather than light.

Following the EU's ban on incandescent light-bulbs, many people were reported to have suffered epileptic fits from the flickering, supposedly eco-friendly fluorescent bulbs.

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3. Vacuum cleaners

On his campaign trail in recent weeks, Boris Johnson also blasted Brussels red tape that he said placed burdensome extra costs on UK retailers selling products such as bananas, vacuum cleaners and hairdryers.

The European Commission triggered an outcry by banning powerful vacuum cleaners two years ago.

From September 1, 2014, companies were prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuum cleaners above the 1,600-watt limit as part of a drive to reduce domestic electricity use.

A furore broke out when shoppers panic-bought high-powered vacuum cleaners ahead of the deadline in 2014.

This directive was expected to be extended to kettles, toasters, hair-dryers and other domestic appliances but it was shelved earlier this year amid fears it would drive the British public towards the EU exit door.

4. Drinking water does not prevent dehydration

In 2011, a ruling by the European Commission claimed that drinking water 'does not ease dehydration'.

EU authorities passed a law which claimed scientists had found no evidence to suggest drinking water stopped dehydration.

Manufacturers of bottled water were prohibited from labelling products with claims that would suggest consumption would fight dehydration.

5. 'Diabetics' banned from driving

European laws introduced in 2011 meant that drivers who treat their diabetes with insulin who have had one or more episodes of severe hypoglycaemia, known as 'hypos', could face losing their licences.

If sufferers had one or more episodes of severe hypoglycaemia - when a patient's blood sugars drop to dangerously low levels - and required assistance from another person, they would have to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Diabetes UK said that the DVLA did not differentiate between daytime and night-time episodes of hypoglycaemia, meaning that some people with diabetes are losing their driving licence unnecessarily.

After a review of evidence, the European Commission said in March this year the driving ban for people experiencing recurrent severe hypoglycaemia when asleep should be lifted.

Diabetes UK said the DVLA will be asked to make the changes by 2018.

6. It is illegal to eat your pet horse

In 2009 a law set out it was illegal to eat 'pet' horses after figures revealed that around two million pet horses were eaten across the EU each year.

According to the guidelines, all horses, ponies, donkeys and related animals (including zoo species like zebras) must have a horse passport.

The passport is a small booklet that identifies an owner's animal by its height and species.

It also states whether the animal can be used for food at the end of its life.

Owners can declare that the animal isn't intended for human consumption by filling in the appropriate section of the passport. This cannot be changed later.

7. Jams, jellies and marmalade guidelines

In 2010, a directive was made relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut puree intended for human consumption.

EU rules stated that a preserve must contain at least 60 per cent sugar to be called a jam.

Anything containing less had to be called a 'fruit spread', while a low sugar jam with less than 50 per cent of sugar was named a 'conserve'.

However these laws were relaxed in 2013.

8. Olive oil in restaurants

Three years ago, the European Union planned to ban the glass jar which is filled, and refilled, with olive oil and served on restaurant tables across the EU, stating that only non-refillable bottles with proper labeling on the contents would be accepted.

Bureaucrats had originally argued that diners were at risk of being served 'inferior' or diluted oil, which could also harbour germs if served in an open dish or bottle.

Officials had wanted to force restaurateurs to only serve oil in its original bottles, with tamper-proof lids.

The 2013 olive oil plan, intended to ensure hygiene and curtail fraud, set off a barrage of complaints - including from David Cameron - and never actually took effect.

- Daily Mail

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