A man with a difficult job

The EESC’s Budget Group met all day today and I spent much of my day in what was a very productive meeting. On the agenda was the draft 2012 budget. On the eve of the meeting the European Commission member with responsibility for the budget, Janusz Lewandowski, wrote to the Presidents of all of the EU institutions, encouraging them to ‘make all possible efforts towards limiting expenditure.’ Journalists quite understandably wanted to know whether and how the institutions would respond. After clearance from my authorities, I released a statement which was picked up in the European Voice and Agence Europe: ‘ The Lewandowski letter was timely, as it arrived on the eve of a meeting of the Committee’s Budget Group at which the draft 2012 budget was to be under discussion. At that meeting the Committee’s President, Staffan Nilsson, and its Vice-President with responsibility for the Budget Group, Jacek Krawczyk, stressed the current situation in the member states and the need for the Committee, as the EU body representing organised civil society, to be exemplary. Many other members of the Budget Group echoed these sentiments. The Budget Group will adopt a proposal on 8 March. The Bureau of the Committee will take a final decision at its meeting on 15 March. It would be inappropriate to give any figure for the time being but I can already say with certainty that the proposal will definitely be below the estimated rate of inflation and will therefore represent a decrease in real terms.’ Encouraged by Jon Worth, I have recently read a fascinating book by George Lakoff, Don’t think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate’, which is all about value-laden vocabulary – how to avoid it (if it is your ideological enemy’s), and also how to use it. The budgetary sphere provides good examples. Do you say ‘cuts’, ‘economies’ or ‘savings’? Do you say ‘reducing the budget’ or ‘deferring investment’? Do you say ‘zero growth’ or ‘adjusted for inflation only’? Thank you, Jon!