Thursday, September 1

The last Straw

Reuters reports that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was forced to offer humble apologies to Europe's press corps on Thursday as the first major event of Britain's European Union presidency, in Newport, turned into an organisational nightmare.

Reporters racing against deadlines watched their stories disappear into the void as the high-tech communications network rigged up for their use at the foreign ministers' meeting in the Welsh town of Newport crashed repeatedly.

"I am embarrassed about it. I am very sorry about it, all right?" a visibly pained Straw told a final news conference.

"As soon as I leave this briefing ... I am going to find the people I think are responsible and encourage them to deal with it and to offer them some career advice."

Tempers flared early on as journalists complained at what they called the heavy-handed security at the talks. One German journalist told how he was escorted out of the meeting and back to his hotel after he complained about the queues into the hotel hosting the meeting. Intresting since one did not realise that Germans were familiar with the British queuing tradition.

Other niggles abounded, with reporters baffled by occasional bans on smoking in some parts of the outside grounds of the building, and miffed to find that the sugar laid on for coffee had run out by midday, clearly the last straw for many political journalists.

A spokesman for the British presidency of the EU, which runs until the end of December, said it was understandable that security was tight just two months after the London bombings, and promised better for the final day of the meeting on Friday.

"We hope tomorrow the system will work ok," said a determined Civil Servant. Perhaps he had just received some career advice !
Regarding 'the system' there is no way the European Union will ever work it has built in fault lines as most of us are well aware.


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