The protocol of the European Union or the implementation of an unfinished

The protocol can be defined as the symbolic order which expresses the political order. It is first a hierarchy which classifies actors and enforces legitimate behaviours. Then, the protocol is a show inviting the public to make allegiance to these actors in function of their rank. From this perspective, the European Union, commonly described as a multi-level and evolving system with no precise hierarchy, is a particularly interesting case : the non-formalisation, and the simplicity of the European ceremonial, result from the necessity to deal permanently with the national diversities and the unending changes of the European political configuration. It also may appear as a strategy to emphasise a new way to make politics in a more rational and modern fashion. The absence of precise codification favours national leaders above all. The member states’ ceremonials remain structuring and give an unequal and subordinate status to the European representatives (Commissioners, high civil servants, members of the European Parliament). Finally, the shyness of the European protocol expresses the weakness of the European political order and the difficulty to dramatise it. –Summary AFRI-2003