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Britain can keep pints and miles

  • Story Highlights
  • European Union cedes in battle to convert country's imperial measures
  • Rest of EU has had to use metric measurements since 1995
  • British public and government campaigned to keep miles, pints and pounds
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BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- The traditional British pint of beer is here to stay after the European Union finally ceded in the battle to convert the country's traditional imperial measures to metric versions.

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Drinking pints of beer is a British institution that had been under threat by EU laws

Champions of the UK's measurements such as miles, pints and pounds hailed the decision to allow the island nation to keep those descriptions - something that had been a sticking point between London and Brussels for decades.

Since 1995 European laws have stated that goods sold in the EU must indicate weights and measurements metrically.

For most of the continent that was a seamless conversion but the announcement caused uproar in Britain, with those against further European integration using the diktat as a rallying call, claiming it was more evidence of Brussels eroding local powers.

Polls showed the vast majority of Britons, aided by populist newspaper campaigns, wanted to keep their traditional measures as the EU insisted that imperial measures would be finally be banished from the UK in 2009.

But imperial measures have been reprieved after the European Commission entered into consultations with British business and consumer groups. The British Government also argued that European industry needed to sell to U.S. markets which preferred imperial measures.

Politically many European integrationists also thought the move expedient, as it would defuse an emotive issue in the traditionally Eurosceptic UK.

A European Commission spokeswoman said Brussels wanted to "put a full stop on this issue", adding: "This means that measurements such as pints and miles are in no way under threat from Brussels and never will be." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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