The UK-EU Brexit talks are off to a sticky start today in Brussels—not just because they promise to be endlessly difficult and complex, but because the Belgian capital is unable to cope with sweltering temperatures of 31° C (88° F).
A memo from the European Committee of Regions listed actions that EU officials can take to beat the heat. They include: Avoid suits and ties if possible; no alcohol; and when the day is at its hottest, close the windows and blinds and kill the lights.
Best of all, Eurocrats are allowed to go home at 4pm if the temperature in the office goes over 30°C, which could mean an early end to the first day of Brexit talks between Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator and David Davis, the British secretary of state.
Being sent home from work during a heatwave is nothing new in northern Europe, where air conditioning is rare.
In Germany—where there’s a deep-seated fear of aircon based on the notion that a draft can pretty much kill you—being sent home early from school or work is called “hitzefrei” (literally, “heat free”). Germans are generally allowed to go home if the thermometer edges above 25-26° C.