Daily Archives: April 3, 2008

A colleague visited recently from the FT’s London mothership, and a few of us took him out to sample some hearty Belgian fare.

Over his beer and stoemp (bangers and mash, Belgian-style) he asked who in the Brussels machine was the ultimate dinner party guest. A member of the European parliament, a national ambassador to the EU, or a European commissioner?

The consensus was that with Brussels dancing to the beat of the European Commission (the EU executive), commissioners were at the top of the pecking order.

Granted, not all commissioners’ roles are equal. Holding the EU education and training portfolio (where the union has only a small role)  hardly has the same cachet as, say, the competition supremo job which gives Neelie Kroes, the incumbent, the power to take on companies such as Microsoft.

But now this Commission has entered its final year and a half, and some of its members have already jumped ship. Markos Kyprianou, formerly health commissioner, has returned to Cyprus to become its foreign minister. Franco Frattini, justice commissioner, is on unpaid leave to participate in this month’s elections in his native Italy.