Thursday, February 02, 2006

The luxury of my morning


a croissant
Originally uploaded by anzyAprico.
I attended yesterday Commissioner Margot Wallström’s hearing on the new white paper for EU communication policy (read and comment). Interesting hearing. Wallström’s goal is to generate two-way communication between the civil society and the EU institutions. Based on yesterday’s hearing I would say that her goals are ambitious but she seems to understand the challenges facing the EU. I reconfimed my view yesterday: Wallström belongs to the good guys.

I liked the fact that she stressed better communication as a matter of democracy, not as a matter of improved image. That is why I feel people should comment the paper and help them improve it. As was stated in the hearing yesterday, the paper needs more emphasis on the notion of conflict and it needs to state in a clearer manner that the goal is to help people engage and understand, not to make people love the European Union. I would also stress the relationship between efficiency and democracy. Often proper consultation and citizen engagement would take more time and make processes messier. But even so, this is something that needs to be done in order to make the European Union more democratic.

I am writing this post in a cafe on Luxembourg Square (although I think I will get it online only this evening). On the opposite side of the square is the colossal European Parliament (clearly a institution in the making...it is basically one big construction site). I stayed for the night with friends and will take a train soon back to Amsterdam (sorry, need to add something to every sentence....I take the wonderful Thalys, the Mercedes Benz of trains).

I decided to live up to stereotypes for a moment, take a later train and start my morning with a croissant and a cup of coffee. It is a cliché but a very nice one.

I watched last weekend again the first episodes of the Swedish drama Kommissionen (The Commission) about the terrorist attack to Stockholm. They have a scene where a member of the commission Grete Ancker is in an EU anti-terrorism meeting in Brussels. She says to her colleague that there are two places in the world where you can get decent croissants outside France. The other is Brussels and the other is – if I remember correctly – Vietnam (I know, do not use references if you cannot remember them completely). Well, in any case, she is definitely right when it comes to Brussels.

I love croissants. They are so wonderfully luxurious and unhandy. But way too often you can clearly taste that the croissants have been baked hours ago and you can taste the fat. Here in Tout Bon Café it is clear that they have not used low-fat spread but real butter. The croissants are crispy and big. The tables have jars of strawberry jam, apple syrup, orange marmelade, blueberry jam, Nutella and honey that you share with other guests. Waiters do not speak English so I had to order in French. When I asked for another croissant (I can afford it, I go to the gym), the waiter brought it for me in her hand. Cute.

And what is important: the croissants and the incredibly strong coffee are decent-priced. And you get a piece of excellent nougat with your coffee.

I think I want to live in Brussels at some point.

1 comment:

Maria said...

Mee toooo, want to live in Brussels. I love that buzee atmosphere meeting da old tradition. And by the way, I have had just a perfect croissant in Hanoi, at the French quarter.

French with their baking skills,they`ve been everywhere...