Thursday, 25 October 2012

The "family photos" at European "summits"

The European Council meeting in Brussels in March 2011

Always when European heads of state and government have their - mostly useless - "summits", we the citizens are invited to watch the nowadays compulsory "family photos". The choreography is always the same: The great leaders casually - always joking and smiling, no matter how serious their business is supposed to be - make their way to the stand, where protocol officers have carefully marked a standing place for each one, according to a complicated formula, which must be meticulously adhered to in order to avoid serious diplomatic complications.

I have often wondered what the purpose of these photographic gatherings is, other than providing job opportunities for a great number of photographers and camera crews. One reason may be that the participants themselves are fond of being photographed together with the rest of the great leaders. (Some of the veteran participants must already be in possession of several large photo albums, full of exciting "family photos". Something to show their grandchildren - "look, grandpa is in all these pictures!")

Maybe somebody in the future will do a scientific study of the political group photo culture. Already a quick look at of just two group photos, the one above and the one below from last week's "summit", offers a chance to make some interesting observations.

Family photo, Brussels 18.10. 2012

On the photo from last year's summit you can see Baroness Ashton - the highest paid female politician in Europe - on the extreme right. At last week's summit photo opportunity the Baroness surprisingly has moved to the extreme left.

What does this sudden change of sides mean? Has the Baroness, who is a Labour peer, perhaps insisted that she does not want to be seen among the people on the extreme right?

At 0:14 in the video, it appears that Jyrki Katainen, prime minister of Finland, is telling a colleague about how big a fish he caught during his summer holiday?

The video also shows the two top EU bureaucrats - Van Rompuy and Barroso - walking away alone after the photo opportunity. Maybe it means that they don't have real friends among the heads of state and government?

Is Barroso here making inquiries about how to find a cheap Greek cleaning lady, who could help him with  ironing the trousers?

The summit photo gatherings need not be as boring as they are now.
Here is a suggestion for the Commission:
Why not invite Mr. Choir himself, Gareth Malone come and teach the heads of state and government sing the Anthem of Europe, which then would be performed at every "summit" photo opportunity? The EU leaders would make a truly interesting mixed choir. Maybe it could even be the beginning of a whole new television reality show?

Gareth Malone - the new EU choir leader?

No comments: