Whether to attend the British royal wedding or the beatification of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican?
That's one decision the EU's top brass won’t have to make this weekend since the British royal family has simply snubbed all EU politicians when it comes to invitations to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The wedding is not a state occasion, the royal family has explained.
“Nobody has been invited from the [European] Commission and therefore nobody in the commission will attend,” said a commission spokesperson, adding that no commissioners were invited to recent royal weddings in Denmark and Sweden either.
Not even Baroness Catherine Ashton will be among the wedding guests, which many see as quite an embarrassment. The EU foreign policy chief was not only made a life peer in the British House of Lords some years ago but is also a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, a body of senior politicians who act as advisers to Queen Elizabeth.
Instead of enjoying the regal festivities, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek will travel to Rome to witness the beatification of Pope John Paul II -- the third of four steps needed in the process of sanctifying the Polish pope, who died in 2005.
That so many EU dignitaries are attending a religious ceremony with no political dimension has raised eyebrows. The fact that the beatification takes place on May 1, marked in many former communist countries and some Western European states as International Workers' Day, is also contentious for some.
An EU diplomat notes dryly that the three EU presidents all are center-right Christian Democrats with Catholic bents who were unlikely to mark the former communist holiday. Fitting then that they go to Rome to pay tribute to John Paul's “huge role in opening those countries that were under the yoke of the Soviet Union,” as an EU spokesperson put it.
If the late pope makes the final grade, he will be assigned a feast day, in which the Catholic faithful celebrate the saint. Three wise men from Brussels seem more certain of marking that occasion than toasting blue-blooded Brits and left-wing revolutionaries.
-- Rikard Jozwiak