Archive | November, 2017

Ex-Bureaucrat’s journal. Episode 1 – Lost in Brussels/Euronarnia

7 Nov

I am sitting in the office of Director General Servoz. I realise fast that the man has nothing to do with the topic we discuss. Clearly, either he didn’t bother to read the brief prepared by his services or he simply doesn’t give a Eurocratic speech.

I waste my time explaining what works and how it could work better based on years of trying, failing and trying again. Still he is blank therefore I decide to be more graphic about extreme poverty and the risks hoping he can show some, even polite interests. I argue we could transform the existing Harry Potter EU Funds in something that could impact the poorest EU citizens outside of reports, conferences and bombastic speeches written by others. Same blank stare at the wall behind me that leaves me wondering if the meeting is happening in my dreams.

It feels like talking to a statue of Budha – highly illogical but somehow hopeful. The man could have a brilliant career working as a custom officer at the border between Euronarnia and the Kingdom of the Undesirables but it seems an odd choice of a director general of the European Commission.

Then I remember that Junker, the man nobody heard beyond the smallest EU state- Luxembourg, the epitome of uninspiring and the leader that makes Theresa May look good is the president of the most important European Institution. The fact that Servoz is one of the most important people in the Commission seems suddenly logical.

Inclusion of refugees is the only thing that sounds vaguely interesting for him. I doubt it is for the right reasons but he shows some brief signs of life.

We end the meeting with a promise that he would do what we suggested and he instructs his services to follow through. Less than 3 months later he will do the exact opposite of what we agreed and blame the usual temporary amnesia of our meeting- a tactic that I grew very much familiar with working within the Romanian government.

As I hold a rather high-level position at another European organisation I have a meeting with another Director General. As with Servoz her services are also very much committed and keen on doing things that make sense. She is new in her position and as with most of the high rank European officials seems to be very keen on doing everything possible to keep the existing status quo – a strategy that will slowly but surely make a joke out of the hopes and dreams of those that made the EU possible.

The people I meet that are both knowledgeable and pragmatic are either in positions of advisors or British therefore hardly the most influential in a Commission that deals with the Brexit.

The institution I represent is far from better when it comes to leadership. The Council of Europe Ambassador to the EU is an old diplomat close to retirement that spends more time dealing with his horses than anything else. The entire period I was there he was not in the office. He is well connected in the sense that somehow manages to stay in a job where he doesn’t do much. I had to arrange all my meetings myself. The most he was able to do was to arrange one meeting with some third rank official. I managed myself to get much higher level meetings including a meeting with the vice-president of the European Commission.

The meeting with Timmermans is exceptional. He is human, inspirational, very well informed and extremely smart. Unfortunately Timmermans himself is an exception in a European Commission that is weak, fragmented and chaotically lead by a Council and a Parliament where people like Orban and Farage often dominate the scene. As with any exceptions Timmermans (and arguably a few others) does nothing else but confirms the rule that uninspiring and often incompetent politicians appointed as Commissioners by corrupt, demagogic and populist parties control the Commission.