N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
At the end of October, Helena Dalli, the Maltese European Commissioner for Equality launched ‘Commission guidelines for inclusive communication’. ‘Making equality mainstream means it has to play a role in everything, including communication’, she wrote.
The Commission wanted, for instance, to ban words that resemble Christmas and proposed to talk about ‘holidays’. The document also advised that gender-related pronouns and words such as ‘chairman’ and ‘man-made’ be eliminated from now on. It was also advised to ask people in advance how they prefer to be addressed and to stop using words such as ‘transgender’ and ‘bi’ as nouns and to replace them with, for example, ‘trans person’. ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ could be better become ‘dear colleagues’.
In particular, the advice to internally use ‘holidays’ instead of ‘Christmas’ was fiercely criticised as an attempt to ‘cancel Christmas’ . Former EP President and now MEP, Antonio Tajani called Dalli’s proposal ‘unacceptable’! French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen spoke of ‘technocrats’ who are the ‘enemy of our identities’.
A month after the announcement, Dalli was forced to withdraw her own project, saying it is not a mature document and does not meet all of the commission’s quality standards. Before Dalli withdrew the guidelines, commission officials already stressed that they were ‘mere recommendations’ that had no binding value. Dalli herself announced that she would continue to work on the subject and come up with an update later.
Tajani tweeted: ‘Long live Christmas. Long live the EU of the common sense’.