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The arrival of the “stars”

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Brussels - Federico Poggi After a relatively calm time, at about 4pm an impressive mass of cameras and journalists of all nationalities gathered at the VIP entrance. The insider trick was to find and get close to German journalists as President Merkel was be the first to arrive and everybody knew she would be talking mainly with her national press.

Comments of German chancellor today were the most rated as she will lead the delicate negotiations of the Council. The atmosphere was tense, it was hard to find a spot that could allow to hear words of European leaders, who traditionally stop to answer a few questions at least to their national press representative. Ms. Merkel did not deceive the crowd…

...about thirty-forty-five minutes waiting and gnawing few centimetres closer to the balustrade, a remarkable parade of dark powerful cars preceded by police bikers appeared… A black car stopped, the door opened and Ms Merkel approached to the German press and delivered her comments, as expected, urging her European partners to be open to compromise. Five minutes after the second caravan of cars approached letting out of the presidential car Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the controversial Polish prime minister. Despite the insisting yell of the crowd - “prime minister, prime minister just one comment, please!”-, Mr. Kaczynski ran inside the building without stopping.

More of the same followed with most presidents and prime ministers leaving optimistic comments to the press. The president of the European Commission, surprisingly, seemed less confident than national leaders, underlining mainly difficulties but also the importance of reaching an agreement on the future European Institutional framework. The same considerations were made by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair who went to speak to the BBC, fortunately placed just in front of us.

Negotiations have now started. The European Union may change its shape this time but some things will never change: Mr. Sarkozy arrived the last, significantly endorsing its predecessor’s, Mr. Chirac, habit.