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Is shaking hands with a Prime Minister worth it?

François Fillon at the World Economic Forum in 2008 [1]

Believe me, it's better in picture than in real life!

14 May, 13:55, in front of the Permanent representation of France in Brussels. Tens of people were queuing on the street to enter the room where French Prime Minister François Fillon was to give a speech to European civil servants.

I was also queueing, considering the fact that you can not see your Prime Minister in real life every day. I thought about a boycott because the invitation had only been sent to the French administrators working for the EU institutions, not to the assistants, giving the taste of a medieval society where privileges still exist. However, curiosity was a more powerful magnet…

Despite the fact that my name turned out not to be on the lists of invited people, I was able enter the building after chatting with the person responsible for the security. And then I had the great honour to wait 50 minutes in a crowded, burning hot room to see, in the end, an exhausted, even breathless man holding a 15 minutes speech.

I had the great honour to wait 50 minutes in a crowded, burning hot room to see, in the end, an exhausted, even breathless small man holding a 15 minutes speech.

The content of the speech [2]was even more disappointing. François Fillon reminded us that we’re “representing France” within the European institutions… Of course, he meticulously chose his words so that he can not be accused of denying the “raison d’être” of European civil servants, i.e. independence and defence of the general European interest. But the tone of the speech was clear and Mr Fillon did not even mention the community aspects of European integration – as if the EU were a merely intergovernmental organization.

Finally, after the speech I shook hands with him – but it didn’t change the disappointing feeling I got from this meeting with my head of government. Let’s just hope this does not announce even more disappointing days for the European Union.