It’s a strange week in Brussels. There are definitely fewer people around. The STIB timetables are set to vacances scolaires, and you don’t keep bumping into people on the Rue du Luxembourg. No-one seems to be picking up the phone at the European Commission.
But hark! What is that I hear? Is it the sound of MEPs pressing the electronic voting button in the Parliamentary committees? A smattering of applause as another own-initiative report passes inspection and scuttles off to be grilled in Plenary.
The Lobby’s inbox is swamped with out-of-office requests to contact so-and-so-‘s assistant (assistants, as noted in a previous post, don’t seem to take holidays), yet the Brussels policy machine rumbles on. This can of course present problems for those in the EU bubble who want to spend “quality time” with their children over the school holidays, yet need to keep up with the latest developments in the institutions – if The Lobby had its own family of mini-Lobbies, we may be inclined to sympathise.
MEPs, too, feel the strain. Monica Frassoni, when an MEP, always complained at being called to Brussels on urgent Parliamentary business during Easter week, and used to say so during Committee meetings. Just today, a Polish MEP assistant known to The Lobby complained wearily as we ascended the escalator in the Parliament about having to start back so early – Easter Tuesday morning, in fact.
Still, at least those MEPs busily voting away this week can rest easy in the knowledge that, come August, it will be their turn to be on holiday whilst lobbyists up and down the city will be preparing for the onslaught of la rentrée.
The institutions always seem so keen to harmonise standards across the EU, yet as long as lobbyists continue to take holidays at variance with the EU institutional calendar it will likely be them who suffer in the long-run. Which is why The Lobby is working today!