Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
All institutions have their gibberish and jargon, but the European Union really does take the biscuit sometimes.
Whether it’s endless acronyms that tumble out of press officers’ mouths without the faintest irony, or stock phrases that ministers, commissioners and assorted lower-level officials just can’t stop themselves from using, the EU and its institutions have given rise to a plethora of empty or confusing verbiage.
At a briefing by the European Defence Agency on the sidelines of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday — known in the lingo as a GAC/FAC — an official produced the following phrase to describe efforts to create a new security body: “We want to adopt a pragmatic, output-oriented, bottom-up approach.”
Having a “bottom-up approach” is currently de rigueur, with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Middle East envoy, repeatedly using the phrase in recent weeks to describe efforts to build-up Palestinian institutions and the economy. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, likes to use it regularly too.
William Safire, the language maven whose musings on how we use words have graced The New York Times and other newspapers for decades, has discovered something about the current crisis. Not for the first time, politicians are scrambling to avoid using common words that might get too close to the truth.
This time the target is the economy, specifically what needs to be done about it. In a column, Safire notes that some Democrats, notably the incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are steering away from using the world "stimulus" when referring to efforts to, er, stimulate the economy. "Recovery" is being used instead. As in, recovery plan.