Life’s a Bitche as the European Union seeks to bounce back from Sofagate

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

The EU is back, baby!

The bloc has had a shocking year so far. The vaccination rollout has been handled with all the grace of a newborn elephant driving a clown car down a flight of stairs, and things are so bad that even sitting down has become a problem for the EU’s top brass, but the situation could be about to change.

Yes, it seems that European Council President Charles Michel has been brought in as a special adviser on the funeral of Prince Philip, which is why the queen will have to sit on her own during the service (he wanted to have a sofa flown in from Turkey for the occasion, but the post-Brexit shipping costs were just too high).

While we’re on the subject of the funeral, special thanks to hooligans’ favorite fashion brand Burberry and the organizers of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for delaying their, er, digital fashion shows and F1 qualifying rounds as a mark of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh. It’s not what he would have wanted.

What Philip likely would have enjoyed was a good laugh at Facebook (and yes, I do realize that the duke probably wasn’t a massive Facebook user — he never got over the demise of MySpace) taking down the page set up by the French town of Bitche. Another town in the northeastern Moselle region, Rohrbach-lès-Bitche, saw the problems its near-neighbor was facing because of its name and took preventive measures by renaming its Facebook page Ville de Rohrbach.

Residents of the Austrian village of Fugging (formerly known as Fucking) are believed to have set up a support group for unfortunately-named places.

Local authorities in Bitsch in Switzerland, Twatt in Scotland, Cocks in England and Muff in Ireland were unavailable for comment.

Also unavailable for comment are the health ministers from European Union countries, because they are not in office long enough to have an opinion. This week alone has seen the health ministers of Austria and Romania leave office, while the Czech Republic has now had four people at the head of its health ministry since the beginning of the pandemic, putting EU health minister in the same bracket as sword swallower, snake milker and Italian prime minister when it comes to job security.

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Would you like a shot of dignity with that first post-lockdown pint?”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“Thanks Jill and Joe, I much prefer a flowery balcony to a dreary sofa,” by Val Flynn

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.



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