Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Who do you call to speak to Europe?

- Obama on the phone

Obama on the phone

Who do you call when you want to speak to Europe? The question, long attributed to Henry Kissinger, has yet to be answered convincingly by the 27-country European Union.

Six months ago, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a news conference the person to call on foreign policy issues was Catherine Ashton, who had just been chosen as the European Union’s foreign affairs chief.  The “so-called Kissinger issue is now solved”, he said.

Ashton reinforced that view on Monday by suggesting she was the person to call if Iran wanted to discuss the latest diplomatic moves on its nuclear programme. “They have my phone number,” she said.

But Barroso was more vague at the news conference last November when asked whom U.S. President Barack Obama should call if he wanted to speak to the EU. He pointed out that the EU was not one country, like the United States, China or Russia — implying they each had one clear leader. He seemed to be saying that the person you have to call depends on circumstances or the nature of the problem a foreign leader wishes to discuss.

EU “maximises its bottom-up cohesion going forward”


All institutions have their gibberish and jargon, but the European Union really does take the biscuit sometimes.

Whether it’s endless acronyms that tumble out of press officers’ mouths without the faintest irony, or stock phrases that ministers, commissioners and assorted lower-level officials just can’t stop themselves from using, the EU and its institutions have given rise to a plethora of empty or confusing verbiage.