Meet the EU’s newest president … Van Damme
The commissioners need a long summer break — and there's an obvious stand-in.
Pity the poor stand-in EU president. As revealed in Brussels Playbook this week, the rota for European commissioners to be in charge while everyone else goes on holiday makes grim reading for some of our unelected overlords.
At the time this piece gets published it’ll be Budget Commissioner Johannes “The Wrath Of” Hahn who has the keys to the Berlaymont while everyone else is on a (socially distanced, mask-wearing, pass-the-hand-gel) beach. And Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi must have annoyed Ursula von der Leyen (potentially by the dint of being Hungarian) as he’s got the Christmas shift this year and again in 2023.
Várhelyi wants to swap but there’s little chance of Lithuania’s Virginijus Sinkevičius offering to step in as the youngest commissioner is very much looking forward to Santa coming.
Declassified would like to suggest a change to the Commission’s rules: Allow a Belgian — any Belgian — to take the reins so all the commissioners can have a long summer break.
There’s an obvious candidate: Jean-Claude Van Damme. The Muscles from Brussels would be ideal as the Commission’s summer stand-in. He’s popular, he’s bilingual, and you can even give the security staff time off as he’s hard as nails!
He’s even got experience in a similar role, having starred in “Second In Command,” in which he played the second in command (obviously) at the US embassy in “Moldavia.” So he could even sort out enlargement before the second half of August.
There is one problem, however: In 2011, he went to a birthday party for Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, gnome impersonator and human rights abuser.
Anyhow, the whole scheme might now be off. This week came the news of a massive jewel heist in Paris, which was shocking for two reasons: One, a suspect made his getaway on an electric scooter (a decision that made robbing a store the second worst thing he did that day); and two (and I quote directly from the Guardian because this can’t be improved upon), “potential witnesses at a nearby cafe told Le Parisien they saw and heard nothing. Many were reportedly distracted by the presence of one-time screen hard man and martial arts specialist Jean-Claude Van Damme at the nearby opticians.”
First of all, “one-time screen hard man” is a harsh description of a man who (checks Wikipedia) stars in the action-comedy “The Last Mercenary,” out Friday! And second, if Van Damme’s eyesight is failing, would that prevent him from taking on this important new role?
More on this important development as we get it.
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Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.