Sitting at my desk in rural France, I could almost hear the guffaws in Westminster when the news came through that EU leaders meeting this week in Brussels had been unable to agree on who should lead the Union in the years after Brexit – assuming, that is, that Britain’s departure is concluded sometime in the next decade. Not only could EU leaders not reach consensus, they were reportedly squaring up to each other, demanding endorsement of their own choices while excoriating all rival nominees.

In fact, this is par for the course. Speaking of France, De Gaulle once famously asked how it was possible to govern a country that made 246 kinds of cheese. Mulitipy the number of cheeses by ten, add in at least a thousand winemakers and a hundred or more car manufacturers – to say nothing of 27 sovereign parliaments, all with their own traditions and prejudices – and you get some idea of the complexity of European governance. The wonder is that anyone gets appointed at all. The process may be labyrinthine, but in the end it always produces results.