For a brief moment on Friday evening, Entre Nous felt a pang of sorrow for the introduction of a permanent presidency of the European Council. Yes, it is true that Herman Van Rompuy, current holder of the position, had come up with the goods at last week's summit, delivering a deal on the European Union's budget for 2014-20. Yet Entre Nous could not help but think about how things might have been. If there were no permanent presidency, then Dalia Grybauskaite would be on course to take charge of the European Council in July – and what fun that would be.
Grybauskaite is the president of Lithuania, a point that will now be familiar to the poor journalist from the Egyptian television channel Nile News seeking a doorstep interview with her as she left the summit. He called out “Prime Minister!” “I am president, but no matter,” said Grybauskaite, smiling as she consented to approach the waiting cameras.
“Madam president, but it looks like the small countries after all are going to lose,” her interviewer began. “Opposite!” interrupted the president. “I am small country. I got 10% more. Hah!” She reinforced her point with a triumphant shake of her fist, followed by an admonitory point of the index finger and the helpful advice: “You need to know how to negotiate.”
Somehow, one cannot imagine Van Rompuy exhibiting the same combative spirit in public.