Monday September 25 I had to go to Brussels to attend a European Commission Expert Group meeting.

Some trips are ‘business as usual’, no big announcements, no adventure, no shocking cultural clashes, no extraordinary events. And that seems to be even more true in Brussels, one of the most boring and least exciting places I know.

Random notes before I completely forget about this day:

  • Brussels airport security is TOO FAST. You don’t have time to put all the stuff they ask you to in the bins, as it has to be done while the bins move along the conveyor belt
  • Somehow, I made the free wifi at the airport work right away on my phone, through my VPN of course, but could not make it work at all on my laptop
  • Before you bring ‘the elephant in the room’ in any EU or Commission meeting, make sure you frame it right, or you will soon find a vacuum around you, as they slowly push you out. In my case, I’m an ‘outsider’ in the group, as I do not work for a financial or research institute, and I constantly remind them of that. That way, I can be as provocative and ‘disruptive’ (sic, I swear that’s what they called me) when I address “intellectual property”, and make sure in our final recommendations we also suggest a system that fights patents and copyright
  • Everybody in the EU institutions know many things that are wrong with the system… but nobody seems to be willing to speak up/publicly, or do anything about it, as they’re all enjoying their precious little perks: you should have seen the interest in my group’s meeting when we reached the “Other issues, including payments and logistics” point in the meeting agenda. Sad
  • The lunch break’s chat was dominated by the Catalonian referendum, as there are 3 Spaniards (two of them Catalans) in the group
  • First thing you see when you walk into the European Commission building: the ‘alert level’ sign. Today’s flavor was :lemon: yellow
  • Military patrols, with automatic guns, patrolling in groups of 4 in train stations, airport, and main public buildings