Tourists at the Grand Place in Brussels, Monday, March, 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
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In the shadow of the European Commission in Brussels, the Dal Padrino restaurant hums to the lunchtime chatter of politicians and journalists chewing over the latest piece of intrigue.With tens of thousands of diplomats, officials and journalists from each of the European Union's 28 nations and the rest of the world, secrets in Brussels don't stay that way for long and it's something the U.K. is already coming to terms with.Like in the U.S. company towns that sprang up around a single employer, there's only one reason that the bars, stores and eateries in the EU quarter of Brussels exist. The city boasts 5,400 diplomats, the highest number in the world according to a 2016 Brussels government study. Add to that the 20,000 lobbyists with an annual budget of 1.5 billion euros; 40,000 EU employees and almost 1,000 permanent journalists from more than 30 countries and you've got a fertile environment for gossip to spread.
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