aarioHere is your starter for ten: what is the connection between the carnival parade in Rio (picture to the left) and the European Union’s information policy? I spent much of this morning in a meeting of the Board of Directors of the European Union’s Official Publications Office (which goes under the French acronym of ‘OPOCE’). The Office’s new Director General, Martine Reicherts, is driving through an ambitious and most welcome reform process and the Board of Directors (composed of the Secretaries General of the EU institutions) is very supportive of this. One of the items on our agenda was a proposal concerning the free distribution of publications. There was a time when OPOCE sought to sell publications, but the internet and the availability of so many publications in PDF format is fast undermining a sales-based policy. So Martine was proposing a generalised policy of free publications and free distribution, on request, but only within the European Union. Why only within the Union (and here’s the answer to the question above)? Because OPOCE had detected abusive practices. In the case of Rio, it was suspected that a large number of EU publications had been ordered not because the dear Brazilian people thirsted for knowledge about the EU and its institutions and policies, but because the colourful publications could be easily shredded and used to make confetti! As they say, you couldn’t make it up.