Strasbourg (F), 21 October 2008
Responding to today’s release of the UK’s European Scrutiny Committee report “Subsidiarity, National Parliaments and the Lisbon Treaty”, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) has called on EU officials and national parliaments to join the European regions in urging dictionaries across Europe to recognise the word “subsidiarity”. AER is also pressing Microsoft to update its MS Word UK spell-checker which, incredibly, continues to underline the word with a red correction line.
Klaus Klipp, Secretary-General of the Assembly of European Regions (AER):
“Ensuring that proposals for EU legislation comply with the subsidiarity principle is important, yes, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. Respect for the principle starts with recognition of the word, and national parliaments can play a key role in securing that recognition.”
“The Lisbon Treaty refers to “subsidiarity” no less than 30 times, and it’s mentioned in the state constitutions of Italy, Germany and other nations. And yet most ordinary citizens don’t know what the word means. How can national parliaments and the EU comply with a principle based upon a word so few people know?”
“Democratic accountability starts with ensuring that citizens understand the principles upon which legislation is based. In the case of the subsidiarity principle, there is no such understanding, despite it being a core value of our civilisation.”
“Recognition of the word by dictionaries and MS Word is essential in ensuring that reports such as that of the UK’s European Scrutiny Committee have real meaning for ordinary citizens.”
AER launched its “Subsidiarity is a word” movement last May, sending open letters to Microsoft UK and to 80 dictionaries covering 25 European languages. A Facebook group has since been set up to encourage members to “shame” other dictionaries that do not include the word. AER’s linguistic superhero, Subsidiarity Man, is featured on YouTube with videos of his arrest in Brussels while attempting to hang a promotional banner in the European institutions district; and high-jumping from the Mostar Old Bridge in Bosnia while thousands of onlookers chanted the word “subsidiarity”.
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