“They want to come across as the adults in the room,” one Spanish journalist put it to me.
But sometimes the EU’s distant, business-like veneer noticeably cracks.
There are a few memorable examples: President Macron describing Brexiteers who promised the UK a better life outside the EU as liars; Luxembourg’s prime minister recently pouring out in public the frustrations with the Brexit process felt privately by many in the EU; and now, on Tuesday, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, responding angrily to Downing Street finger-pointing about the state of Brexit renegotiations by addressing this tweet directly to the prime minister.
Mr Tusk’s flash of emotion did not go down well in European government circles at this sensitive juncture, as the EU leaders summit and the 31 October Brexit deadline fast approach.
The EU wants a deal and, if negotiations fail, it wants voters across the EU to believe that Brussels did its best – staying focussed on the facts at the negotiating table, rather than getting involved in cross-Channel mud-slinging.