Today I read an editorial in the luxembourgish online newspaper Tageblatt.lu criticizing the European Commission’s country-specific recommendations for Luxembourg.1 In that article the author Robert Schneider uses the words “European Council”, “Commission” and “Brussels” as synonyms. He goes on to criticize the “ivory tower” of the European Commission that seems to only care about who will pay their salary in the future (“in doubt the old and sick”). Now if you’re using your position as a journalist to jump knee-deep into populism, at least you should get your facts straight!
This approach of not caring about the correct meaning of terms not only shows a dangerous lack of knowledge of European institutions and their role, but underlines the laziness we (and I include myself) have come to when discussing – and criticizing – the European Union.
Being eurosceptic is important. We all should scrutinize power, especially when it is vested in institutions that are not, or only indirectly, democratically legitimized. However a responsible euroscepticism that is not based on bland populism has to rely on facts.
If we mean to criticize the European Commission, we should use the word “European Commission”. If we don’t like the decisions of the European Council, we should use the word “European Council”. If we want to complain about the bad weather in the capital of Belgium, we should use the word “Brussels”.
I will try to take my own advice into account and I will not blame “the media” for bad research and knowledge about the EU. I will say: “Dear Robert Schneider from Tageblatt.lu, please get your facts straight before resorting to cheap populism!”
- Taking my own advice – again – I have to be more specific. The correct description would be “the country-specific recommendations for Luxembourg of the Council of the European Union, having regard to the recommendation of the European Commission, the resolutions of the European Parliament, the conclusions of the European Council, the opinion of the Employment Committee, and after consulting the Economic and Financial Committee” ↩