Rhein on Energy and Climate

Monday, January 23rd 2012, the new Belgian Prime Minister di Rupo flew to Berlin for a one-hour working lunch with his German counterpart, Chancellor Merkel, to make her personal acquaintance and prepare for the European Council meeting on January 30th.

The visit has been extremely short, no more than two hours in the German capital.

20 minutes of that time were wasted by diplomatic formalities: Berlin is one of the EU capitals that continues to practise a diplomatic protocol according to which senior foreign state guests have to parade an honour guard with military music. PM di Rupo enjoyed this “honour” even twice: at the airport and the Chancellery.

One wonders why Germany continues to be so keen on offering its guests, even those of the EU family, a protocol of past times when rulers wanted to impress their guests by magnificent castles, beautiful uniforms and military music.

It would befit the modest and cultivated President of the European Council to raise this trivial issue at one of the working dinners with his colleagues and suggest minimising protocol formalities when they visit each other: it might generate savings that might be used for charity.

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