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Just another day at the Lobby – and, it would seem, another EU Summit, at least according to Herman Van Rompuy.
Some people claim to be suffering from Summit fatigue, particularly ever since De Heer Van Rompuy decided to host a Summit every few weeks, or so it seems.
But not The Lobby. We don’t just like EU Summits, we adore them – we are the Summit equivalents of trainspotters, except we only wear anoraks when it’s really bad weather…
We at Lobby towers love Summits so much we have taken the immense trouble of publishing a snapshot of what was discussed, who said what, how it was reported. You can thank us later, but first, of course, you have to read it, and to do so all you need to do is click here.
There you are. We’ve done all your work for you.
If you can’t be bothered to click the link (yes, this link) you are very lazy, but because like any good publishing house, we know our readers, please see below a (very) brief summary:
- A lot happening on energy;
- France and Germany trying to get the rest of the Eurozone to agree to some kind of fiscal union – the other members aren’t so keen – it’ll be finalised at March’s Summit (The Lobby says: hmm, not so sure about that one)
- Member States can’t agree on Egypt – obviously they all want democracy, that’s the easy bit. But should Mubarak be involved? If so how? And where does this leave the EU’s foreign policy?
- And innovation – researchers, SMEs, a golden future awaits you!
That’s that. But of course, it would be better if you read our update. Which you can access here.
Still not clicked it? OK one last time – here!
It was bound to happen sooner or later. The fact that it is Greece will surprise few, but the sheer extent of the deficit and debt – 12.7% and touching €300 billion respectively – will have come as a nasty shock to fellow eurozone members.
At last week’s Summit EU leaders raced to show solidarity with Greece but refused to be drawn on what exactly they would do. Is a bail-out plan on the cards? Will Greece be asked to leave the eurozone? Will Germany have to dig into its ever-sparser pockets?
Greece has been accused of fiddling the books for the last few years, which may or may not be true, but what has been conveniently ignored is the contradiction at the heart of the Euro. Whilst eurozone monetary policy is regulated en bloc from the cosy headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt am Main – 2400km from Athens – fiscal policy remains the sole responsibility of individual Member States.
Inevitably then, Member States are in a position to rack up huge debts if they wish, but then cannot play around with interest rates to rectify the figure. No-one is saying that EU Member States outside the eurozone are sitting pretty, but at least the Bank of England can respond to the UK’s own needs in a time of crisis. Whilst Greece burns, other eurozone members are showing signs of recovery, but how should the ECB balance out this tricky equation?
Meanwhile, Greeks are out on the streets demanding a halt to planned government cuts. The political heat is rising day-by-day, but let it not be said that this is not of the eurozone’s own making.
Meanwhile, eyes are already turning anxiously towards Spain, Portugal, Italy, and even France. Who would want to join the single currency now?
As newly appointed Council President Herman van Rompuy settles into his new job, government officials and hundreds of journalists will be left in the dark tomorrow as there will be no place for them at the fancy venue of the informal Council meeting.
Asked to wait until the meeting is over, they are being referred to the Council’s Justus Lipsius building at Schuman whilst the Heads of State will be meeting over lunch in the charming Bibliothèque Solvay, located in the Léopold park right next to the European Parliament.
In organising his first Summit in this way, Mr van Rompuy may be stepping on some toes, and The Lobby is curious to see the various reactions. This more intimate “Summit diplomacy” to which only the Heads of State are invited without their advisors, may well be much more effective for the decision-making process.
Nonetheless, is Mr van Rompuy skating on slippery ice by all too quickly breaking with the old traditions and non-written rules? Fair is fair, we might have expected the haiku writer to come up with something as controversial as this.
One obvious question which remains though is why this honour went to the Bibliothèque Solvay? Are the leaders expected to take inspiration on economic growth and innovation from the assembled bookshelves? What about the Concert Noble? Or the Atomium? Autoworld? Tour & Taxis? Here at Grayling we also have a beautiful meeting room available!