Correspondent's Choice

The following article about Commission spokespersons was published on 22nd January 2010 by EurActiv.

Despite the EU executive’s efforts to hire a more multilingual and diverse team for its spokespersons’ service, critics condemn the “dangerous” trend in the European institutions towards the linguistic and cultural hegemony of the English language.

An internal document seen by EurActiv shows that 11 out of the 26 spokespersons that have already been designated to the incoming European Commission are Anglo-Saxon. Of these, seven are English and four are Irish.

Widespread rumours confirm that even the 27th spokesperson, to be appointed by Romanian Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, is expected to be English.

Commission officials concede that even the current list is the product of a major review carried out since the original spokespersons’ team proposed by the commissioners-desginate included around 20 Anglo-Saxon spokespersons.

Appointments are still ongoing and fresh reviews are possible, explained an EU official. “The new spokespersons’ service is not in place yet,” said the head of Commission’s spokespersons’ service, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen. “The nomination procedure is still ongoing and has to be finalised,” she reiterated yesterday (21 January) in response to questions from journalists during the Commission’s daily press briefing in Brussels.

An officer of the Spanish EU Presidency underlined that “it is important to maintain a proportion among different nationalities in the public services, including that of spokespersons”.

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  1. Strangely, I am English and manage to adapt my use of English to the target audience as part of my job.

    What is interesting is the fact that the UK has done very little, if anything, to push the use of English in Europe.

    For instance, when Poland joined the EU in 2004, the BBC stopped broadcasting to Poland and I had to buy an enormous satellite dish. BBC World is, frankly, a joke and lacks presenters with the ability of the ones who work for the English-language France24 service.

    There should be concerted action to use UK spellcheck at least – and I mean outside of just European legislation.

  2. “Of these, seven are English and four are Irish.”

    The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish have the most cause for complaint. Either they’re being completely overlooked for such jobs, or the EU is using ‘English’ to mean ‘British’.

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