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#MeetMeat - The carnivore's temple



While recent trends may have veered away from meat eating, less has been heard about the health benefits of eating meat, writes Martin Banks.

It has perhaps been less publicized that meat contributes to carrying out vital metabolic functions.

Meat also gives one a lot of energy and, since meat contains a large amount of protein, this could be beneficial to the body .

So, what’s not to like about eating meat?

Happily, there is one restaurant in Brussels that not only concentrates almost totally on meat but also happens to serve some of the best meat you will find anywhere.

The place is called (what else?) – Meet Meat and, for once, the description applied to it – a “carnivore’s temple” – is spot on.

There are a couple of Meet Meat restaurants in Brussels and the first, at Schuman, in the shadow of the European Commission, has actually been around some time now.

That one opened 11 years ago but, like most good things, word about how good it was spread quickly and the owners decided to open a second one at Uccle.

The Uccle branch followed in the footsteps of what had been a real culinary fixture in these parts. Mozart, the name of its predecessor, used to open all night and often attracted people like Miles Davis and Johnny Hallyday, who called by to eat before/after a gig at the nearby Forest National.

However, Mozart eventually struck a duff note, closed and had been empty for many months before the current co-owner Philippe Wiener took it over.

A huge transformation ensued while ensuring that some of the delightful interior features, such as nice original brickwork, were retained. The work was overseen by a Venetian architect who has done a terrific job: there’s a nice blend of the formal and intimate in dining here.

The décor and style of its “sister” restaurant, situated in a townhouse at Schuman, is quite different.

But the menu is the same at both and that means quality all the way.

Meat is obviously very much the “star” on the menu here and it is not an exaggeration to say that this really has to be among the best available in Brussels.

One of the main reasons for that is that it is Argentinian beef that is used at Meet Meat and even those totally unacquainted with meat will know that this is as good a quality recommendation as you can get.

The meat that ends up on your plate here started its long transatlantic journey from South America in the best possible way.

The beef is sourced from the world-famous Angus (and Herefordshire) breed and the cattle are grass fed on the vast Argentinian pampas with a maximum of two animals per acre.

Philippe and this team, importantly, are also able to track the traceability of their products all the way along the line.

All this attention to detail and quality control shows in the food that is served at his restaurant.

This begins with the sensational starters, ranging from Spanish charcuterie to a plate of truly authentic Argentinian items such as empanadas (a pastry filled with hand diced beef), chorizo criollo (small grilled sausage) and provoletta (grilled provolone cheese).

There is also beef carpaccio, beef (as opposed to the usual veal) tonnato, bone marrow with toast and salmon. Any of these delightful dishes will set you up perfectly for what is to follow.

Before making a choice, though, the staff make a point of showing you the selection of raw cuts.Listening to them do this is a bit like watching an artist at work, such is the passion and sheer  enthusiasm they put into it.

There are several cuts brought to the table, including rib eye, rump, sirloin and filet.

A very detailed description of each is provided and, just to make the decision making even harder, you can also choose one of the “special cuts” which are cooked particularly slowly on the grill.

The grill they use here is, in fact, another reason why their meat is so special. It’s specially imported from Argentina and is v-shape so as to ensure that all the fat drains away.

Also worth mentioning that the meat is served according to the weight of your choice, from 200 to 500 grams.

Whatever your preference you’d be advised to come here with an appetite because the meat (served with frites or jacket potato and Argentinian sauces) is not only exceptional but rather filling.

Philippe himself comes with a top CV: he studied at a hotel management school in Switzerland and, after a spell with a leading accounting company, decided to branch out and open a restaurant with his business partner.

He has made the most of his Argentinian contacts to ensure that only the most reliable suppliers are part of the Meet Meat supply chain.

If steak does not happen to be your thing, there are other nice items on the menu,including Iberico pork, pasta and burgers.

Brussels-born Philippe also knows a thing or two about the great selection of wines which are stocked in a cabinet visible to diners. There’s some seriously good Argentinian wine available but, just as important, at very democratic prices.

To round off a great dining experience, there’s even a car parking valet service available.

The meat here really does melt in the mouth like butter - little wonder that this eatery is widely known as a “temple of meat”.

Meet Meat
541 Chaussée d’Alsemberg 1180 Uccle
T. +32 (0)2 219 1652



EU-Western Balkans: Time is of the essence



Earlier this month the European Commission adopted its annual enlargement package, which includes a communication on EU enlargement policy assessing the current state of the Western Balkans integration within the EU and outlining priorities for future action. There are many reasons why both parties have an interest in advancing such a relationship, writes Vladimir Krulj, Fellow at the UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs.

First, the process of European integration is a source of political stability. This is especially important in a region where the memory of the tragic civil war is still very vivid in the minds of its people. Indeed, despite meaningful progress in many fields, the Western Balkans remain in a delicate and uncertain political situation. Populism is on the rise, corruption is rife, nationalism has revived and countries are suffering from democratic deficits.

In this situation, an ambitious EU integration agenda provides opportunity for the improvement of the judicial system, an advancement of the rule of law, the democratization of the political system and more credible and transparent government institutions that can benefit both sides. In particular, priority is to be given to effectively taking all concrete measures to tackle the endemic presence of corruption at all levels of governance. Governance should be guided by the core principal of common interest for each citizen and no more by the specific interests of certain groups. The time has come for action to fight against corruption and organised crime. No more promises! Results are expected by civil society.

Second, deeper ties have an economic rationale, as evidence shows that both parties can gain in terms of increased trade. However, Balkan economies are fragile, and the pandemic is further exacerbating the situation. In response to this, the Commission has come up with an unparalleled Economic and Investment Plan for the Balkans – a  €9 billion package that will finance sustainable connectivity, the development of human capital, competitiveness, inclusive growth and accelerate the green and digital transition.

In exchange, Balkan countries are expected to “step up their convergent efforts” through the implementation of jointly agreed reforms to maximize the potential impact of said investment package. Harmonization of customs and tax regulations, freedom of movement between countries and efficient border management are all essential elements for a competitive regional market and emergence or consolidation of solid regional economic players.

Third, there are historical reasons and a sense of responsibility at play. The region of the Western Balkans suffered one the most tragic atrocities at the end of the twentieth century. The EU being a project of peace and prosperity, it cannot exist as a whole and as a free continent without sharing a common future with the Western Balkans. Nationalism and communautarism are never far away in the region where critical situations can escalate rapidly.

Finally, there are geopolitical considerations. Geopolitics abhors a vacuum. If the EU will not provide an ambitious agenda for the Balkans, then other great powers – such as China, Russia, or Turkey could step in and extend their dominance directly at the EU’s door. Realistically, they already are and the EU isn’t proactively addressing the growing – sometimes aggressive – influence of its challengers.

Overall, the process of the integration of Western Balkans has achieved great results. However, the Commission laments inadequate progress in the rule of law area, a scant commitment to the independence of the judiciary and persistent and unacceptable levels of corruption. As for freedom of expression and media pluralism, progress has been made but less than in other years.

Clearly, Western Balkan countries must continue the political, judicial, and economic reforms, while the EU must think strategically and show a strong political will to support this region on the difficult path to reform.

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Senior MEP calls on Parliament to 'restore calm' in Guinea after elections



A senior MEP has called on the EU to press Guinea to “restore calm” after the weekend presidential elections left the trouble-torn African country in further turmoil.

Official results will not be known for several days and the local media have been banned from publishing exit poll results. But it is widely rumoured that the main opposition candidate, Cello Dalein Diallo, beat the sitting president Alpha Conde by over 50%.

There are now fears of unrest with Diallo suggesting the incumbent may “cheat” and dispute the outcome of Sunday’s (18 October) election in a bid to stay in power.

Diallo is apparently in hiding following rumours that he might be arrested.

Belgian Socialist Maria Arena, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s sub committee on human rights, told this website: “It seems important to me that the European Union, namely the external action service but also the member states, use political and diplomatic dialogue to try to restore calm in Guinea.”

On Monday (19 October), speaking exclusively to this website, Diallo said: “I am convinced from the results obtained that I won this election despite fraud and intimidation. I appeal to officials, territorial administrators and members of the branches of the CENI (Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante) to ensure that all compatriots observe and respect the electoral code and other laws and good practices so that our country does not sink into violence.”

He added: “We don't need it. But, the risk is that if Alpha Condé wants at all costs, and whatever the results of the ballot box, to proclaim itself the winner. Let him understand that we will not accept.”

Diallo went on, “I now ask the international community to take its responsibilities to save Guinea from drift.”

In the vote, which followed months of political unrest where dozens of people were killed during security crackdowns on mass protests, 82-year-old Conde sought a controversial third term.

Diallo told reporters, “Alpha Conde cannot abandon his desire to grant himself a presidency for life.” He warned his rival not take power using “cunning and violence”.

Diallo said that in the election observers had encountered obstructions at polling stations while Guinea’s Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana admitted there had been “incidents.”

Ten other candidates besides Conde and Diallo contested the poll and, if necessary, a second-round runoff vote is scheduled for November 24.

Much of the tension in Guinea relates to a new constitution Conde pushed through in March, in defiance of mass protests, arguing that it would modernise the country.

The move controversially allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidential terms. Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and won again in 2015 but rights groups now accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism.

Maria Arena, also a member of the Parliament’s influential conference of committee chairs and foreign affairs committee, noted that an emergency resolution had been voted by the assembly in February condemning Condé's desire to change the constitution by referendum to allow him to exercise a third term.

She said: “In this resolution, the European Parliament had already pointed out human rights violations and urged the government to organize transparent, pluralist and inclusive elections.

"But Condé, who called himself the president of democracy (“the Mandela of West Africa”) changed his ways and took the path of repression by locking up opponents.”

Turning to the current post-election period, she said: “We must avoid repeating the scenes of violence of 2009.”

She added: “Unfortunately the covid pandemic did not allow the EU to deploy an election observation mission. This is damaging for Guinea.

“Guinea, like the other African countries, has signed the Cotonou Agreement, which is still applicable and this agreement provides for sanctions mechanisms in the event of non-respect for good governance and democracy. The European Council will also be able to use this tool if the elections lead to a failure to respect these principles and if the Guinean population is a victim.”

Further comment comes from foreign affairs committee chairman German MEP David McAllister who told this website he did not want a repeat of the violence seen during the legislative elections and a constitutional referendum in March which he said “was deeply shocking”.

“The EU has rightly called on the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations so that those responsible can be prosecuted.

“The presidential election on  Sunday was included amongst the 2020 priorities for an EU-Election Expert Mission but the political situation in the country made it impossible to deploy a mission, as the minimal conditions were clearly lacking. Furthermore, the Guinean authorities did not actively send any invitation to the EU for an election observation,” said the EPP deputy.

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Update: Co-operation under the microscope in COVID-19 crisis – EAPM EU Presidency Conference report available



As coronavirus infections soar across the planet, and the death toll rises everywhere, not least in Europe, many are asking why European Union member states were so disconnected from each other strategy-wise, and what the EU can do about improving co-ordination this second time round, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

Well, given that health care is a jealously guarded member state competence, locking-down the answer isn’t easy, and never has been. But that doesn’t help Europe’s citizenry, given that COVID-19 is no respecter of borders and national sovereignty. 

This was one of a myriad discussion items discussed in our recent virtual Presidency Conference entitled ‘Ensuring access to innovation and data-rich biomarker space to speed better quality of care for citizens’. You can read the report here.

As highlighted during the Presidency Conference, there is potential future promise in the European policy context, with the legislative and policy initiatives currently on the EU agenda – most recently – the declaration of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in favour of European Health Union which was discussed during the conference. 

EAPM has always argued for more EU-wide co-operation and coordination in health care, and the current crisis has only made that need more obvious. 

Indeed, for the best part of a decade,  the Alliance has been calling for policies to tackle diseases of many different types - not least cancer - through new science and personalised healthcare, with the backing of many MEPs.

It is apt that throughout the topic-specific discussions of the Presidency Conference, the broader themes that emerged most insistently were collaboration and communication, since these have been the hallmarks of EAPM’s activity since its initiation. 

EAPM is by definition a collaborative exercise, bringing together the broadest range of stakeholders – as this conference again demonstrated. And communication has been at the heart of EAPM’s activity, since its role is not just as a thinktank for refining ideas, but as a vehicle for transmitting those ideas from the world of healthcare to the broader world of policy, where the decisions are made that ultimately shape the way health is delivered. 

Principal recommendations 

Although there was no formal process of agreeing recommendations at the meeting, the following are among the recurring recommendations from the discussions. 

  • Inequalities in access to testing and treatment across Europe must be addressed

  • Adequate data infrastructure and processing capacity must be available.

  • Real-world evidence must be developed and acceptance criteria agreed with regulators, HTA agencies and payers.

  • Greater flexibility in regulatory requirements is needed to accommodate evaluation of products destined for small populations.

  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration must be developed to agree research priorities, standards and quality assurance of testing, and evaluation criteria for testing and treatments.

  • Trust must be developed among citizens about the security and possible  use of their data.

  • Communication must be developed by healthcare stakeholders to persuade policymakers to effect constructive change.  

The link to the report is available here.

1 million genome meeting on 21 October

Registration is still very much open for the B1MG meeting on 21 October. The aim of the the 1 million Genome Project is to support the connection of national genomics and data infrastructures, co-ordinate the harmonization of the ethical and legal framework for sharing data of high privacy sensitivity, and give practical guidance for the pan-European coordination of implementing genomic technologies in national and European health-care systems. 

Thus, the B1MG is a means to bring the different stakeholders together on Oct 21st so as to act as a catalyst to provide a benchmark approach for alignment of complex, fractionated health-care provisions into health-care systems.

Register here and read the full agenda here.

Have the best week possible, and keep safe.

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