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It's raining in Val duchesse

(BRUSSELS2) The meeting of European Union defense ministers began around 19 p.m. at the Val Duchesse castle – usually reserved for guests of the Belgian government, or for ministerial conclaves to form governments. But not all the participants were there yet: at 19:30 p.m., some were still arriving, I could see. This dinner should be dispatched quickly. Because not all ministers should be present.

The advantage is that there will be no media to observe it, nor to report on the meeting. It’s true: what’s the point of the press? High Representative Catherine Ashton is often criticized there. So you might as well avoid one more chore…

Nothing has therefore been planned to welcome journalists – unlike other informal meetings whether in Poland (Krakow), Hungary (Budapest) or Belgium (Ghent). When I talk about nothing, it's not peanuts, orange juice and sandwiches... But quite simply a room to work in, with a roof and heating. Or just access.

It's very simple. The journalist is persona non grata. He can stay in front of the gates to freeze in the pouring rain. The G4S guards – who also freeze 🙂 – watch at the entrance not to let applicants pass. Well… in theory. Because their protection system is not the most effective (I was able to enter the enclosure without problem). Anyone who wanted to leave a piece of plastic at the foot of the building could do so in complete peace of mind...

NB: let us point out that nothing has really been done to attract the journalistic audience. A press briefing was organized to prepare for this meeting. An appointment was given to journalists at 15:45 p.m., just a few hours before the meeting, this Wednesday. An hour when every journalist worthy of the name who covers defense and foreign affairs was precisely on the other side of the city, on bd Leopold at NATO, where a meeting was taking place which was nonetheless important since it was was the “jumbo” meeting to prepare for the Chicago summit… Next time, we could summon the journalists to the planet Mars or… to the Bermuda Triangle.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).