The European Commission announced Tuesday it has withdrawn an internal document recommending politically correct "inclusive" language after heated debate over the guidelines blew up in the multilingual institution.
"Concern was raised with regards to some examples provided in the Guidelines on Inclusive Communication," the EU commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli, said on Twitter.
She published a statement saying the guidelines "clearly need more work" and adding: "I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document."
The document urged Commission employees to avoid gender-specific titles for jobs and in greetings, and to opt for neutral terms for culturally or religiously specific occasions.
"The European Commission must lead by example... To do this effectively, we must deliver inclusive communication at all times," Dalli wrote in the foreword to the pulled document, obtained by AFP.
The document called on those in the commission to "never use gendered nouns such as 'workmen, policemen' or masculine pronouns (he, his) as a default". It called on readers to "never address an audience as 'ladies and gentlemen' but use expressions such as 'Dear colleagues'".
It also urged them to use 'Ms' over 'Miss' or 'Mrs', "the elderly" instead of "old people", and to respect the self-identification of trans people.
The French news magazine Le Point, which caught wind of the guidelines last week, criticised the "right-thinking lexicon" being suggested.
A conservative Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, argued that "in the name of inclusivity, the European Commission is going to cancel Christmas" claiming it wanted to impose "the holiday period" instead of "the Christmas period".
A far-right presidential candidate in France, Marine Le Pen, said "these technocrats show their real face: that of an enemy to our identities, our roots, our traditions".
The document does note that not everyone is Christian or celebrates Christian holidays. But while it did suggest using "holiday times" instead of "Christmas time" if appropriate, it also approved Commission employees using their preferred terms "for those celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah".
Dalli on Twitter described the document as "work in progress".
She said: "We are looking into these concerns with the view of addressing them in an updated version of the guidelines."
The commissioner added that the intent of the internal guidelines was "to illustrate the diversity of European culture and showcase the inclusive nature of the European Commission towards all walks of life and beliefs of European citizens".