Have a read of
this piece (see comments – link changed – a version is available here) on AP’s website about Barroso’s State of the European Union speech. It’s entitled “Top EU official seeks closer policy union” and then starts “A senior EU official called for closer political and financial unification in Europe”, before explaining Barroso’s actual job in the 2nd paragraph.
Why does this matter?
When I hear the word ‘official’ it implies to me someone whose position is on the basis of appointment, whose function is bureaucratic, and whose task is to in some way be impartial. Barroso’s job as President of the Commission is none of those things. He’s a political actor and hence using the term ‘official’ to describe him is inaccurate. Doing so puts him at the level of Secretary-General of the European Commission, Catherine Day.
My discussion with AP’s journalist who wrote the piece, Don Melvin, is here. This is not a critique of Don personally, as he’s undoubtedly complying with rules from a house style, but I would argue that those rules are wrong. In EU matters, just as in any other area of politics, words matter (as I’ve previously argued).
We refer to David Cameron as British Prime Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy as French President, so it’s high time we consistently refer to Jose Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission.
(Article updated Thursday 29th Sept due to changes in links at AP’s website. Content remains unchanged)