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Chris Patten

How does the operation of the Brussels bureaucracy compare with running Hong Kong? Badly.

By Robert Cottrell   June 2000

When chris patten gave the first of this year’s Reith lectures on governance, he ended it with a verse from a Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know that he exists.” On that measure, the institutions of the EU in Brussels, Patten’s new home, must contain some of the finest leaders in world history. How many people can name the president of the European parliament? Or the president-in-office of the European council? Or more than five members of the 20-member European commission?

Lao-tzu’s lines probably made delightful sense in 6th century BC China, but for Europe,…

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