As picked up by the News of the World, the Swedish Ambassador to the EU, Christian Danielson, has announced that the EU will hold 6,000 - yes, 6,000 - meetings during the Swedish EU presidency in the second half of this year.
Speaking in front of business representatives in Brussels, he said, "The preparations consist mostly of planning meetings and coordinating with the current Czech Presidency. 6,000 meetings in different working groups will be held in Brussels during the Swedish Presidency.”
Bearing in mind that the EU completely shuts down for the month of August - making the second presidency of the year a 5-month one - this means there will be around 300 meetings a week - that's an eye-popping 60 meetings a day!
And that's only the Council sub-meetings. The 'working groups' the ambassador is referring to are the meetings where civil servants and ambassadors prepare the work for the Council meetings of EU ministers - such as the Foreign Ministers' meetings, or the Justice Ministers' meetings. It doesn't take account of the no doubt thousands of meetings which will go on within both the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Some examples of the types of groups we're talking about can be found here. Let's see - you've got the “Horizontal Working Party on Drugs”, the “Working Party on New Buildings”, the “Working Party on the Staff Regulations”, the “Police Cooperation Working Party”, the “Working Party on Olive Oil”, and the “Working Party on Youth”. Etc.
So 60 of these, every single day for 5 months.
What on earth can there possibly be to do in all these talking shops? And at what cost?