There was a time – even in the short lifetime of this blog - when European Councils were sort of important.
They are, after all, meetings (currently) of the heads of state and government of the 25 member states of the European Union, comprising the largest single trading block in the world, representing a larger population than the entire United States.
And so it was that the president of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, and Mr Matti Vanhanen, prime minister, hosted an informal Council which started yesterday and ends today, held in the Sibelius Hall in Lahti, Finland.
Attending yesterday was the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who was there to discuss energy policy with the EU leaders.
Our own dear leader, Tony Blair – as always – was less than happy in the company of his European colleagues, and tucked himself away at the back during the "family photograph", looking distinctly ill at ease. How far we have come since Tony was the toast of Europe, determined to be at the heart of things, telling all the "colleagues" how to run their economies.
Anyhow, if Tone was, shall we say, somewhat on the margins, the British interest was well represented by none other than our own Guardian newspaper which, during the Friday evening press conference was right in there with a penetrating question for EU commission president José Manuel Barroso (pictured arriving).
"How can you can do business with a man, Vladimir Putin," the egregious Guardian hack demanded, "whose commitment to human rights are so great that he has expressed admiration for the sexual habits of an alleged rapist, the President of Israel?"
We are just sooooo lucky that we have such a diligent media, so fully on the ball, ready to bring us the latest news and analysis from the far-flung shores of the European empire. What would we do without it?
Photos: Council of the European Union
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