Photo: © European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari/ Flickr
It was my first time at a big press conference of the European Council where you can easily spot European politicians and where journalists run wild. And those journalists actually literally ran wild. For when entering the Justus Lipsius building, the big hall was dotted with journalists from all over the Europe, working industriously on their articles and reports. Most were sitting at one of several long tables that were filling the otherwise empty hall, busy looking up information or writing on their laptops. Others were recording broadcasts, running around, taking seemingly very urgent phone calls or merely catching up with international colleagues. What vibrance, what activity!
Overwhelmed and swept away by this thriving atmosphere, I instantly felt very excited, as if being part of something big. Or rather: as if something big was about to happen and me being there to witness it. But I soon learnt that the long wait and the uncertainty of when that big something was about to happen, made my initial excitement subside rapidly. Even though, when after an hour’s wait the press conference finally started, curiosity and therefore excitement levels rose again.
“Today we set priorities on a number of pressing matters,” Van Rompuy told us. In short: Pakistan will get more help, a trade agreement will be signed with South-Korea and (Roma) discrimination should not exist inside the EU. All 27 heads of state came to a “broad consensus” of this “fruitful” gathering. This being only the beginning of the European Council’s foreign policy plans, both Van Rompuy and Barroso once again stressed the importance of stepping forward as one, united Europe. Because, Barroso forecasts, in speaking with one voice, “we can make a real difference, not only as a global player, but I would say as the global player of reference in this age of globalisation”.
After everything was said, the time had come for questions. But Herman Van Rompuy was still answering the last question, asked by a Ukrainian journalist, when about a quarter of the journalists stormed out of the room. Were they so eager to get to work after all the waiting or were they all competing to be the first, the one with the scoop? Or were they dying to hear another politician state the same Council conclusions? For other, smaller press conferences were held at the same time by politicians such as Zapatero and Berlusconi. To find out, I guess I have some reading to do…