The EU is proposing to allow the UK to continue using pounds, miles and pints as units of measurement indefinitely and will be leaving all future decision on the issue to the British government.
The decision is a victory for supporters of the imperial system, branded "metric martyrs" by the media for their campaign to retain the older system.
The UK had been due to set a date for phasing out all its imperial measurements within three years.
The battle to stop the switchover began in 2000, when the move to force market traders to sell their produce in kilograms rather than pounds and ounces caused outrage.
The decision to back down was made by the European Commission's industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen.
He told the BBC: "I organised a huge consultation, and the result was that industry told us there was no problem with the existing system.
"I want to bring to an end a bitter, bitter battle that has lasted for decades and which in my view is completely pointless. We're bringing this battle to an end."