Bad EU jargon and Squid Game summits

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

So how did you spend International Plain Language Day?

Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for budget and administration, on Wednesday helpfully tweeted to remind everyone of the existence of this most glorious of days and even had a list of ways to make your writing clearer.

A couple stand out: “Avoid abbreviations” and “Don’t use jargon.” These are clearly both great pieces of advice that I would give to any aspiring journalist (just after “for God’s sake, nooooooo!” and “always wear sensible shoes”) but are a touch odd coming from the EU, which is built on jargon and abbreviations.

Plain writing advice is, frankly, a bit rich coming from an EU that thinks the European Council and the Council of the European Union should both exist while not being the same thing!

It’s also the EU that gave us such gems as “non-paper” (anything that’s not paper?); “MFF” (when your mom is your best friend?); “MiFID” (from the post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel The Day of the MiFIDs?); “trilogue” (a threesome?); “delegated acts” (see trilogue); “Coreper II” (not as good as Coreper I but much better than Coreper III: The Revenge?); “comitology” (the study of comits?); “RescEU” (a cold remedy?). I mean, I could go on and at some point probably will.

At least of the big ideas of late, the Conference on the Future of Europe has a name that is understandable. It’s a conference (kind of) about the future of Europe. On the surface that makes sense. And I’ve got an idea that’ll knock their socks off!

In order to improve citizen engagement and transparency, how about EU summits borrow certain elements from hit TV show “Squid Game”!

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a Korean dystopian drama in which marginalized people are pitted against one another in traditional children’s games. The winner gets loads of cash, the loser gets killed. So a bit like post-Brexit Britain!

Obviously the “if you lose, you get killed part” would unfortunately probably have to go but you can’t tell me that dressing EU leaders in matching tracksuits and getting them to compete in a series of playground games wouldn’t ramp up interest in the decision-making process. You could televise it, get in a glitzy host à la Eurovision, even bring in some big-money sponsors (Gazprom? The Chinese government?).

Just whatever you do, don’t call it the Council of anything.


“What bait do I use? Novichok.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“Boris Johnson strapped to emergency bike that automatically rides off when he says something embarrassing,” by Guus Evers

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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