Had I gone to some press junket as I was supposed to, rather than head home to watch the France/Portugal game (fairly tedious), I would have been within easy assassination distance of Margaret Thatcher last night. I have failed in my duty.
(Even though I’m actually one of those annoying people who thinks Thatcher did more good than bad – but ssssshhhh! I’m supposed to be a bit of a lefty, apparently.)
I must also apologise for bringing you no news of the EU for a while. Nothing on the new Finnish presidency, nothing on the failure of the Common Fisheries Policy, nothing on the supposed revival (once again) of that damn constitution, nothing on populist Europe-wide anti-paedophile drives, because so much of it is simply incredibly boring.
Instead, have a brief summary of a few important EU developments from the last few days:
1) The EU has offered Russia a free trade deal – really designed to head off any more energy crises, but with the potential finally to bring Moscow back towards Europe where (if you’re a fan of the likes of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and their ilk) she belongs.
2) European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has slagged off Gordon Brown, hinting that with Brown as PM Britain would be further isolated within the EU (registration required for the Spectator’s site, but doesn’t seem to work all the time, so see the Telegraph for a summary).
3) As from today, MEPs are significantly more powerful and so the EU significantly more democratic, as the European Parliament gains the ability to revoke Commission decisions for the first time. (Please note, Danish eurosceptic MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, whose criticisms of this advance are quoted extensively in that EU Observer report, is the husband of the owner of, erm… the EU Observer.)