Mr Brunagel is diplomatic enough to say that there are no difficult visitors, but there can be difficult situations. For example, the President of the EP was planning to present a piece of antique chinaware to US President Ronald Reagan. However, the US Security service wanted to examine the gift ahead of the ceremony, which was unacceptable to the EP President. Happily, the presidents managed to exchange gifts away from the eyes of American security service.
Every visitor is unique, and this has to be taken into account for visits to run smoothly. For example, the protocol services of monarchs are usually more rigid than others, says Mr Brunagel. Nevertheless, languages open doors, and attention to small details makes a real difference when dealing with any high-level guest. "If a President is known to like a specific whisky in a specific glass, paying attention to this will surely make his day," said Mr Brunagel.
The staff really has to be creative and able to improvise, for example cutting up towels and heating them in the microwave to provide wet hot napkins for a visitor, knowing where to find an extra pair of stockings or trying to keep visitors on track in the labyrinthine EP buildings in Strasbourg and Brussels. Cultural differences such as sense of time have to be taken into account. Some people drop their official agenda to catch up with an EU official who happens to be passing, or are keen to get some tourism in. But these are exceptions. "We haven't had diplomatic incidents so far," said Mr Brunagel.
But how do they manage it, this multitude of details? "A lot of it is customary rules, experience and common sense," Mr Brunagel explains. Though guide books on titles and etiquette exist, there is no rulebook for European etiquette - which varies from country to country. Mr Brunagel's team meets every half a year with heads of protocol of the Member States to discuss technical matters such as visas. Not every EU-Member has long established rules on protocol and the size of the Member States' diplomatic services varies greatly.