On April 1st 2013 a Belgian website (Pagtour.net) published the news that there was a project to expand Charleroi’s airport with a second runway (see here).
The piece explained that secret plans to expand the airport had been found in a secret chest, and that they had been drawn up by a secret Commission whose members only drank Spa water and met at restaurants specialized in fish and zinc. It was -some would say obviously- an April’s fools day hoax (or, as they’re called here, a “poisson d’avril” (April’s fish).
However, as reported in a bunch of Belgian news outlets (see l’Echo, le Soir, la RTBF, msn actualité 7sur7, la DH, le Morgen, RTL, La libre,) DG COMP apparently swallowed the fish whole (!!)
Belgian authotities are reported to have received a request for information dated on 31 July (just like April’s fools hoaxes are done on April 1,
the EC’s jokes information requests in the EU are sent out on 31 July to spoil some poor lawyers’ and company employees’ vacations..) asking about the reported plans , and referring to the hoax piece at issue as a source 🙂
The Commission is reported to have stated today that information requests are supposed to be of a confidential nature.
Many of you may not know that there’s actually (or, rather, there was until 2011; pity) an established tradition of antitrust-related April Fools Day jokes published by the American Antitrust Institute. They’re all available here, my favorite ones being:
– Antitrust Controlled by Jerks, Says New Evolutionary Biology Report (I bought that one; thought it made a lot of sense..)
– As US Attorney General Gonzales Confidentially Reports, There’s Nothing Funny About Antitrust
By the way, what has happened with the joke on Charlerois is not a first; some journalists in the States also picked up the AAI hoax on President Bush’s proposal to merge antitrust agencies with the Department for Homeland Security..