Secret European Commission lockdown party ‘unbelievably boring’: sources
A clandestine European Commission party held in the Berlaymont during the 2020 Covid lockdown was “astoundingly dull” and “definitely miss-able”, according to excerpts from an inspector-general report seen by Berlaymonster.
The party, held in a conference room on the 13th floor of the EU executive’s headquarters building, was attended only by top Commissioners – those of at least 2nd-vice-president rank or higher – as well as key officials and senior interns. The fête started promptly at 6:15pm and was over by 8:30, the report said.
A Commission spokesperson defended the event, saying it was a “working party that almost but never actually got out of hand” and insisting that officials “needed to blow off some steam after a quite busy two weeks in December, but they definitely didn’t do it at this party.”
Asked whether there was any concern about violation of strict Covid social distancing protocols, the spokesperson replied, “Are you kidding? Have you ever been to a Commission party? Interacting from an awkward distance is de rigueur.”
According to people present, attendees clattered raucously on their keyboards, and repeatedly “took the floor” – although this is not understood to be a referring to a dance floor. However, sources said that at one point the level of excitement rose briefly when Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis cleared a space in the middle of the room.
“All of sudden Dombrovskis starts doing what looks like the Funky Robot,” one attendee told investigators, “but then we found out he was just making some brief introductory remarks.”
According to one source cited anonymously in the report, the gathering also featured a game of “Badge Match” – in which partygoers drop their ID badges into a basket, and then draw out a different one. They must then spend the rest of the party in a “frank and constructive dialogue” with the person whose ID they get.
An audit of the Xerox machine in the conference room found that it was used only to photocopy memos and draft proposals – and no body parts other than the occasional stray thumb.
The IG report details some of the logistical fallout from the party, including the cost of cleaning the room afterward.
“It was a mess of empty mineral-water bottles, twisted lanyards, crumpled-up non-papers and speculoos wrappers,” said one member of the custodial staff. “Pretty much like any weekly College meeting.”
One EU official urged the commission to throw off its fusty image via more interesting lockdown scandals. “The best we’ve managed is a golf club, FFS”, he said. “Even the European Parliament mustered a sex party.”
Among the report’s recommendations are that are Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen resign for allowing such a party to take place on her watch. "She knows the rules of normal human interaction, and these were definitely not kept to," one insider said.