Heard in Europe

The sound of grumbling stomachs and grumbling officials reached Heard in Europe’s ears this week.

A string of wildcat strikes by staff working in the Commission’s canteen resulted in long queues at Exki, and long faces in the Berlaymont.

A well-placed source whispered that the problem stemmed from the declining quality of lunch. Caterers Ciano, who took over in January 2014, aren’t as popular as their predecessor.

Takings are thought to be down. There have been lay-offs, which sparked the strikes, and which in turn will drive custom down even further.

It’s a vicious circle, we were told by the committed gossiper, who admitted that the allegations were entirely based on unsubstantiated rumour.

But it’s not just the officials and canteen staff who are getting grumpy. Other “steak-holders” in the canteen are as well.

Many in the press corps still wistfully look back to the days of Illy coffee being served in the press bar, and hanker willfully for its return.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

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  1. ‘Food for thoughts’?

    When I did an internship at the Commission in the late 80’s, there was still a ‘tea lady’ going through the offices corridors. Her tray and bell were attracting officials to come out of their (individual, closed) offices, and have a brief chat at the same time.

    This simple measure – granted, HR intensive – was probably at least as important as unit meetings and current online tools to keep things together.

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