Britain rues the rules from EU_ pass the olive oil, please!

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The tipping point might have been three years ago, when the European Union wanted to ban open bottles of olive oil — that staple of easygoing culinary fun — from restaurant tables across Europe.

British Euroskeptics, who have railed for years against what they see as the EU’s excessive intrusion into daily life with a long list of petty rules, finally had an example of overreach that promised to irritate everyone who loves to dip crusty bread into oil.

A referendum Thursday will decide whether Britain remains a part of the 28-nation EU. Though the debate has centered more on immigration and the economy, the sense of sovereignty and independence is also a key theme for those in favor of leaving, who often point to attempts to regulate things like olive oil, toasters, and lawn mowers as they make their case that EU regulations can be absurd and stifling.

Those who defend the EU’s rulemaking argue that a union of so many nations representing half a billion people in a single trading zone — the so-called single market — needs extremely detailed regulations to create a level playing field for olive producers from Spain to Greece and for chemical companies from Finland to Italy.

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

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