It’s 5.15 am and I’m en route for Brussels for the Council of Ministers meeting. The CAP business in the Council isn’t till this afternoon. This morning I’ll be at our Brussels office giving a presentation to a visiting group of Scottish rural leaders.
I’ve spoken to a fair number of such groups over the years. Some really want to debate detailed issues of policy. Others want to focus on how the process work – who says what to whom and when, etc. And others are interested in what you might call the human angle – what’s the Commissioner like, or what’s it like working via interpreters?
In fact the interpreters are superb, but nobody’s perfect and there is plenty of scope for confusion. My favourite example was told to me by an interpreter we used when I worked in Paris.
Supposedly a minister – a German defence minister I think – was giving a press conference through interpretation and in reply to one question was reported to have said “That’s unthinkable”. This was so unexpectedly negative that it caused controversy for 48 hours until someone spotted the interpretation error; he had actually said “I’ve never thought about it”!