John Lichfield

  • Scenic Tour

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a European Union summit meeting for the first time in nineteen years. Wandering through the bowels of the new Council of Ministers building in Brussels, I felt suddenly like that great Dutch-American Rip Van Winkle. He woke after a twentyyear nap in the Catskill Mountains to find that the thirteen British colonies had become the United States. Returning to my old hunting grounds in Brussels after nearly two decades, I was confronted with a bewildering New Europe.

    The twelve EU member states had become twenty-seven. Germany was now one country, not two,

  • Chirac and a Hard Place

    The only time I met Nicolas Sarkozy was at a press conference after a French-British summit meeting. The man who might well be the next president of France was not the center of attention that day. He was a spectator, like me: not a role that he likes very much.

    We were introduced by a junior French politician. Sarkozy shook hands. He shifted from foot to foot. He said little. He moved constantly. When the press conference began, he twisted in his seat as if he had a plane to catch or an awkward body part to scratch. He chatted with other French ministers on either side. He paid no heed to