Shell Fuel

Every now and then, the staff at EU Commissioner Margot Wallström invites the Brussels correspondents working for Swedish news media to an informal breakfast meeting to provide some background information. I am not at liberty to reveal in detail what is said there, since the so-called Chatham House Rule applies, but let’s just say it’s a very good way to ge a general feel for what is going on in the intermediate to long term within the Union.

Truly Scandinavian in style, coffee is served together with some not-so-very Scandinavian croissant or so. Except for last time, that is, when the provided entertainment turned out to be of quite a different sort. The coffee tarried, the person in charge of these meetings got angrier and angrier, went out again and again to inquire what was going on, in a tone of voice that increasingly was heard through the walls from the offices where the poor assistants with the task of providing in-house catering were being verbally flogged.

Apparently, the assistants eventually had to fire up their staff coffee machine, meaning that cups were carried in in small clusters, as the machine was working its way through run after run.

Days before that meeting, there had been some criticism from Sweden-based journalists (probably envious because they couldn’t come) about the alleged ethical dilemma such meetings poses. Of course, we joked that the lack of breakfast at that breakfast meeting was some sort of retaliation, but of course, the Commission people denied it.

This morning, we were invited again, and I responded by asking if I should take my own flask. “Cheeky, but we’ll make sure coffee’s there this time”, the response read.

I was seriously tempted to take a flask anyway just for the fun of it, when I suddenly remembered that all our flasks for some unimaginable reason have the look, colour, material, size and shape of small flat-top artillery shells. Or possibly suitcase nukes, depending on your imagination.

Getting such items through security, and the x-ray machines and metal detectors they use there, was not something I was inclined to do, so I cowardly backed off from this practical joke.

Oh, and for those who wonder: This morning’s breakfast was very fine indeed.


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