Here is a lesson from today’s European Commission midday press conference on how EU propaganda works, and works at all times and at every opportunity.
Whenever a commissioner appears on the podium to make a statement, a specially-designed slide is projected onto the giant screen over his head. Today Commissioner Johannes Hahn (an Austrian, you’ve never heard of him) was on the podium to tell the press corps about his plans to make payments out of the EU disaster relief fund, known as the Solidarity Fund, faster and simpler.
Fine. But what was more instructive than anything Hahn had to say was what was projected in giant letters behind him, over a picture of an unidentified town halfway under water: ‘EU Solidarity Fund: faster and simpler for disaster-hit regions.’
Note the chosen word was ‘regions.’ Not disaster-hit ‘countries.’
This is no accident. The word ‘country’ or ‘countries’ is kept out of the vocabulary of EU institutions. The EU goal is to have ‘a Europe of regions’ and absolutely not a Europe of countries. The thinking seems to be that if the eurocrats put enough of such slides up, eventually the preferred vocabulary will burn itself onto the reporters’ retinas.
For the same reason, suddenly lots more German is turning up in the slides, even though the two working languages of the press room are English and French. For example, after a press conference yesterday on credit card charges, I can tell you that the German for ‘together for new growth’ is ‘Zusammen für neues Wachstum.’ But that is another issue. Back to the propaganda for ‘regions.’
The phrase ‘member states’ is of course allowed: if you want to know why, just remember your grammar. The job of an adjective (member) is to modify the noun (state). A member state is not a state as we once knew the term. It is a state which has been modified, as the adjective ‘artificial’ modifies the noun ‘leg.’ Same noun, different powers, different method of control.
So, if you suffer a flood or earthquake, Brussels wants you to know it is not your country which is hit, it is your ‘region.’ And the region has been designed to ignore any national borders. You will hear of no disaster-hit countries around the commission, or hear of any other kinds of countries. A country not in the EU is a ‘third party.’
There are no native countries at the Berlaymont. By training, the only time a eurocrat may use the word ‘country’ is when he finds himself forced to refer to the land from which he comes. Then the correct eurocrat usage is not to say ‘Finland’ or ‘Denmark,’ but ‘the country I know best.’ Actually saying ‘Finland’ or ‘Denmark -- or Great Britain or Austria or any other country -- is bad form.
Which is why yesterday’s performance at the commission by José Manuel Barroso calling for an EU defence policy was grotesque. What soldier signs up to die for his cross-border region? What grieving father is ever comforted because his dead soldier son is buried in some corner of a foreign field that is for ever an EU region?
Believe it: no soldier ever sent to fight as part of Barroso’s ‘credible EU Common Security and Defence Policy’ will be allowed to pledge to thee, my country.