A European Life: From War to Peace by Michael Tracy

By Michael Tracy

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Some do appreciate the available advice; others – particularly Ministers – may rush into meetings with no time for previous briefing. On the whole, delegates from the larger countries are more likely to rely on their own national services. Sometimes the Secretariat can only look on in dismay as a President launches into a fruitless course which its advice could have averted. The Council Presidency The Presidency’s task is primarily to chair all meetings – not just the Council of Ministers but all committees and working-parties, where the chairpersons are drawn from their national representations in Brussels or from their home civil service.

With a strong academic background in both law and economics, he was intelligent, fair and quite un-Greek in maintaining his calm in all circumstances. I was not surprised when he became Prime Minister in 1996, and he did a good deal to stabilise the Greek economy. He withdrew from politics in 2004, having other priorities. Another excellent president was Michel Rocard, French Minister of Agriculture in 1983-85, likewise competent and objective in his role. He too later became a Prime Minister, but subsequently did not play as big a role in French politics as he deserved and as France perhaps needed.

In each country I was also on a recruiting mission for a staff member for my Agricultural Policies Division, and in Australia found an excellent candidate who joined us soon afterwards and made a valuable contribution to our work. The accession of Japan had already brought a most interesting new dimension to our work. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture provided one of their experts to work with us: Seiji Shindo. He became one of our best colleagues and also did much to introduce us to Japanese culture.

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