Heard in Europe

When newly-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker this week, the usual press conference (or press point) didn’t take place.

This despite the huge curiosity raised by the first visit to Brussels of the new Greek leader, not only from the media but the wider world.

When US Vice-President Joe Biden met Juncker this Friday (6 February), there was no press conference either, despite the huge significance of the visit in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, the fight against ISIS or the hurdles TTIP is facing.

Journalists have started to presume that when meetings are really important, Juncker simply doesn’t want any upsets.

Indeed Juncker’s recent press appearances mostly involve him kissing foreign dignitaries, rather than taking questions from reporters.

This paternalistic approach brings to mind the traditional behaviour of parents who send children to bed when they have an argument. Or as the French gendarmes say “Circulez, y’a rien à voir”.

But the Brussels press corps is beginning to feel nervous. Every journalist is under pressure from his media outlet to send regular reports from the EU capital.

Such reports are often called for in advance, leaving journalists without copy looking stupid or lazy, or both.

Let’s hope Tsipras’ and Biden’s visits prove exceptions rather than the rule.

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