SO there I am, battling for Britain on the EU's draft constitutional treaty for a second happy day in Brussels, and these ruddy mosquitoes start to attack me.

One had been buzzing me the day before, but I had dealt with it and assumed that it was by chance alone that it had gone for me.

But on Tuesday, the assault on me was relentless. No sooner had I swatted one away, another would dive bomb me.

In the EU Council Chamber where Foreign Ministers meet, I sit between the Czech and the Estonian Foreign Ministers. Kristiina Ojuland, my Estonian colleague, started giggling - to draw my attention to the fact that the mozzies weren't going for her. Nor I suddenly realised, for the Czech on the other side, nor any of the other 23 Ministers around the table. This was obviously a carefully targeted campaign.

We had been arguing about the precise legal status of the 'Charter of Rights'. It's no great secret that there is some difference of view between us and some other EU partners on this issue.

So when I came to speak I drew to the Chair's attention Article II-3 of the draft of the Charter. This gives all EU citizens - including me - a right "to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity".

But, I told the Chair, this right was being undermined by these mosquitoes, which had obviously been trained to be anti-Brit. I joked that my German colleague, Joschka Fischer, was behind it.

Joschka, who has brilliant English, interjected straightaway to say that the mozzies were not "anti-British", but just "pro-European".

My French colleague, Michel Barnier, said at least they weren't tsetse fly. Others said that it must be how I smelt (OK, so independent observers told me).

I managed to kill another mozzie and presented it ceremonially to Joschka. Later in the day, a large bottle of insect repellent was put in my place at the the table.

Fortunately, I was never stung by any of these creatures and the saga provided some moments of light relief in what can otherwise be rather dry discussion.

But the issue, however dry, is important.

The Charter of Rights is essentially a declaration of a wide variety of basic rights, to which we in the UK are already signed up either in our own domestic law - like the 1998 Human Rights Act - or in various international treaties to which we are State parties.

In principal therefore no one could or should object to any of these rights.

However, because we do not in the UK have a single document containing our constitution, our legal system is not as used as many of those on the continent to dealing with the practical consequences of such declaratory rights.

So what we've been seeking to do is to ensure that these rights are seen in the main as principles, and are not there to give the EU new powers nor be used to reduce the scope of our own domestic law.

I'm back in Brussels for the next round on Monday next. We'll be going through other parts of the draft Treaty. Meanwhile, in the greatest of secrecy, I'm having my own swarm of mosquitoes specially trained, so that next time they can join in - on my side.