The FT magazine carried an interesting article last Saturday about the comparative importance and scale of the European Union. One in seven of the world’s 193 countries is in the EU. Its member states account for more than one-fifth of the world’s economic output and two-fifths of its exports. The EU’s combined gross domestic product is slightly more than that of the United States, double China’s and a little over three times that of Japan. Exports from the EU are respectively 40 per cent and 80 per cent greater than those from the US and China. The EU is also responsible for one quarter of the world’s R & D spending. But yesterday our Head of Communication gave an example of one interesting opposite trend which must be of concern to all European democrats. In the recent past ‘Brussels’ used to like to boast about how, with over 1,200 accredited journalists, it had the biggest concentration of journalists in the world (that is, bigger than Washington’s, of course). However, that figure now stands at 850. Most newspapers have been going through a protracted crisis, in part brought upon themselves by the free provision of web-based products. I suppose, additionally, it could be argued that so much information is now available on the web that Brussels-based journalists are not as necessary as they once might have been. However, it remains a great irony and a worry for democrats that on the eve of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the Brussels-based press corps is shrinking.