It is bizarre that, at a time when the purpose of the EU’s institutions are being called into question more than ever, the president of the European Commission decides to introduce a US-style “State of the Union” address.
Rather than use tomorrow’s opportunity merely to set out the priorities for the year ahead, José Manuel Barroso’s PR move looks to owe more to style than substance.
The institutions of the EU face the biggest threat to their power since their creation. Member state governments are increasingly regaining the role of Europe’s navigators.
But, rather than analyse the reasons for this, or try to get to grips with Europe’s pressing issues, Barroso’s move aims to put the commission – and himself personally – back on centre stage.
Like a man whose marriage is in difficulty, he’s going out on the town, drinking with his mates, flirting with women, putting on a brave face and trying to prove he’s still got it — rather than staying at home to work out what is wrong.
But it will strike a discordant note with Europe’s citizens who no longer see the relevance of this type of posturing.
The State of the Union address will no doubt play well to the chattering classes who live in the Brussels bubble and see the strengthening of the European Commission as its main raison-d’etre.
But to the those people protesting on the streets of Athens, those in London who view the EU with scepticism, those in Berlin who are worried about the strength of the economy, they will hear Mr Barroso and ask: Why this? Why now?
That’s if they even listen at all.