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My grand tour

Bureaucracy and banality, the triumph of internationalism, the best hope for eastern Europe, a botched job - the EU is all these things

By Nick Fraser   December 2000

In the grubby, smoke-filled basement of the Breydel building in Brussels, members of the EU press corps gathers at noon each day for their briefing. Each of the 20 commissioners has a spokesman, and they skip up to the dais in turn. Today’s subject is the imposition of a kerosene tax on every plane flying in Europe. I note details, but as I do so they seem to slip away. A film of dead language wraps everything Christo-style, with phrases such as “parallel effort,” “global approach.” On the wall above us is a large painting entitled The Creation of the…

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