An internal European Commission communications document has advised bureaucrats to avoid terms like "Christmas time" to be more inclusive.
Published: 2021-11-30 11:44 am
EU Advice to Ban Terms Like ‘Christmas Time’ to Be Inclusive Withdrawn After Backlash

The European Commission will be “looking into” a internal document that advised bureaucrats to avoid terms like “Christmas time” to be more inclusive after the paper leaked to an Italian newspaper.

The document, entitled “European Commission Guidelines for Inclusive Communication”, gives advice to Commission employees for all communications including press releases, social media posts, speeches, and training materials.

Under the section labelled “cultures, lifestyles and beliefs”, the document recommends Commission employees refrain from using the term “Christmas time”, arguing that because Christmas is not celebrated by everyone in the European Union, they should use the term “holiday times” instead.

Guidance, first reported on by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale with the entire document later distributed by French news website, also discourages the term “Christian name”, which should instead be replaced with “first name” or “forename”.

Commission employees are also encouraged to use names from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in their communications material, giving the example: “Malika and Julio are an international couple.”

While much of the document is comprised of language suggestions, there are some rules which are labelled as being mandatory, such as “never” using gendered language like policeman as a default, not using the term “Mr” or “Mrs”, and always addressing an audience as “dear colleagues” — “never” as “ladies and gentlemen”.

The EU publication also states that workers should “be mindful of the negative connotations of terms such as colonisation or settlement”, going so far as to suggest the use of the phrase “sending humans to Mars” rather than speak of the future colonisation of the red planet.

Il Giornale published the report over the weekend, prompting criticism from Italian politicians, such as national conservative Brother of Italy (FdI) leader Giorgia Meloni who stated: “Enough is enough: our history and our identity will not be erased.”

Spanish MEP Jorge Buxadé, a member of the populist party VOX, also commented on the document on Twitter, telling European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “We are going to say Christmas, Mary, Bethlehem, Joseph, Jesus and whatever we want, when we want.”

The Commission subsequently walked back the guidance, with the European Commission’s Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, a long-serving Maltese left-wing politician calling the document — which she had previously posed for a picture holding at its launch — a “work in progress”.

Dalli said in a statement issued through the Commission and shared by her on social media that her intention for the document has been “to illustrate the diversity of European culture”, a mission she called an “important aim”. Nevertheless, she said, “the guidelines clearly need more work. I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document”.

The uncovering of the content of the communication guidelines comes just months after Simona Baldassarre, a Member of the European Parliament for Matteo Salvini’s League, highlighted a glossary for EU officials which banned terms like “mother” and “father”.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)
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