Spare a kind thought for Brussels

This first appeared as a Comment in the 28 May issue of Flight International

Of all the low life forms – journalists, lawyers, politicians, bankers, used-car salesmen, tax inspectors – there must surely be a special circle of Hell reserved for bureaucrats. With limbs bound by red tape, these souls could perhaps be found wandering an endless staircase leading to a stationary queue, all the while filling out blank forms with an empty pen.

But, you ask (and, yes, we can see you rubbing your hands with glee), what of that most special category of bureaucrats, the Eurocrats?

Fruiterers, lovers of traditional weights and measures and air travellers may protest, but let us stop here and spare a kind thought for the European Commission. True, its Brussels redoubt is nice digs, the food and beer there is first-rate and it consumes a fair sum of money generating reams of regulation.

But on closer observation, “Brussels” is surprisingly small and its diktats no more onerous than those handed down by rivals in other major capitals.

Those who value their rights and privileges in the EU should recall its unique role as “guardian of the treaties”; without Brussels, grand visions such as free trade between 350 million people would be just hot air. And the Commission’s focus on the wellbeing of citizens is, however imperfect, admirable.

It’s easy to blame the paper pushers of Brussels, but, really, they could do with some help.

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