Mind your language

One of the few European Union organizations based in Greece, the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) has attracted the attention of the European Ombudsman, who considers it uses inappropriate, even abusive language, in responding to complaints from citizens. Jacob Soderman, the Ombudsman, said that he had «noticed that in a number of opinions given by (Thessaloniki-based) CEDEFOP on citizens’ complaints, it used language different from that normally used by Community institutions and bodies.» He reminded CEDEFOP that it had adopted a Code of Good Administrative Behavior upon its opening in 1999. He asked whether CEDEFOP had given, or planned to give instructions to its staff on the appropriate way of replying to complaints from citizens. The language may have shocked Soderman, but Greek citizens dealing with state bureaucrats may find it almost commonplace. Following are a couple of examples drawn from CEDEFOP correspondence: – «(…) is also tangible proof of the bad faith of X which has been, for reasons unknown to CEDEFOP, unable to stomach its self-considered ‘defeat’ at the hands of a (Greek-based), competitor.» – «we did not adopt thereafter a negative, hostile or revenge-seeking attitude (although we could justifiably have done so).» – «The behavior of X can best be described as voluble and agitated.» CEDEFOP must reply to the Ombudsman’s inquiry by April 30.

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