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A feud between two of the European Union’s leaders was exposed yesterday as the two men travelled in separate VIP jets on the same morning to the EU-Russia summit destination in Russia.
Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso Photo: REUTERS
Rivalry between the EU president Herman Van Rompuy and the European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, whose title is also president, over who is Europe’s true leader on the world stage meant that the pair and their entourages, would not share one aircraft.
Mr Van Rompuy, Belgium’s former prime minister before he took the EU post, did not offer Mr Barroso space on an aircraft supplied to him by the Belgian air force at cheap rates.
Instead, Mr Barroso was forced to charter a 15-seater plane, said to be a Learjet, at high commercial rates to carry himself, Baroness Ashton, the EU’s trade commissioner and a group of officials to Russia.
Air Charter Service, a London based company, estimated the cost of Mr Barroso’s Brussels to Russia air taxi would be between £50,000 and £70,000.
Meanwhile, Mr Van Rompuy, accompanied by fewer than 15 officials, travelled in a 35-seat Embraer 135 jet, charged only at the cost of the aircraft’s fuel consumption. Both planes left Brussels within four hours of each other for Nizhny Novgorod in the Volga-Vyatka region of Russia to hold talks on behalf of the EU with President Dmitry Medvedev.
The European Commission and Mr Van Rompuy’s office defended the arrangement by saying that the EU’s two most senior officials were too busy to co-ordinate their diaries and too important to travel in one aircraft.
Read moreEU Presidents Herman Van Rompuy And Jose Manuel Barroso Fly To Same Destination In Separate Jets