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  • Martini Seltzermayr

New protocols for re-opened Berlaymont press room

Memo leaked to @mseltzermayr sets out draft rules for use of the European Commission press room post-lockdown.


A buzzing, capacity EU press room, pre-covid

TOP SECRET

TO: Spokesperson’s Service

FROM: Secretariat-General, Unit G.7

COPIES: to be left in The Old Hack and the Number 60 bus, as usual


As of next month, the European Commission will be welcoming the Brussels press pack back into its bounteous press room. Some journalists, presumably the newer ones, may even be looking forward to having their questions answered.


In the context of this eventual prospect, the Spokesperson’s Service should propose a few ground rules aiming at a high standard of physical health, assuming it long ago abandoned any semblance of the other kind.


  • In the interests of all present, the spokespeople will be separated from the journalists by a perspex screen which will be selectively soundproofed.

  • Journalists are invited to wear a mask at all times, British journalists an inverted bucket.

  • Journalists should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres; colleagues from the Finnish Press Agency the standard 8.. Correspondents of The Telegraph may simply maintain their usual ironic detachment.

  • As Covid-19 is particularly strongly transmissible by hot air, Commissioners’ opening statements will be strictly limited.

  • To ensure balance and impartiality with those dialing in, members of the press physically present in the press room are invited to begin each question with HELLO CAN YOU HEAR ME. DG HR is currently in the process of recruiting the spokesperson whose duties will comprise saying “PUSH THE SPEAK BUTTON” in an aggrieved fashion.

  • Questions posed in the form of statements will be reduced to four rather than six minutes, after efforts to cut them to three were blocked by API.

  • French journalists are invited to make use of their own separate press room, with strictly francophone briefings and a smoking section.

  • Journalists who have health, or indeed olfactory, concerns over proximity to other journalists are invited to ask their questions via Twitter. Spokespeople will respond just as soon as they figure out what that is.

  • We know our journalists are very particular about such matters, so dispensers of alcohol hand gel located near the entrance will include a selection of white, red, and sparkling.

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