Nose Count

As next weekend’s Brussels EU summit about the constitution is approaching quickly, it’s only too normal that all national players are digging their trenches and defence lines by publicly downplaying the importance of an agreement if the “national price to be paid is too high” while Europhiles of all nations are trying to increase pressure on them by painting a gloomy picture about the future of Europe should there not be an(y) agreement. We’ve been there, we’ve done that.

European intergovernmental negotiations are always like n-dimensional chess played with innumerable official and unofficial players and, alas, without any agreement on the rules. So how much more difficult can it be when there are actually some things at stake? A lot. David’s post below already alluded to this and by now the media are increasingly putting the summit on the agenda.
Today’s International Heral Tribune updates the Economist article linked to below and briefly outlines the curent state of the union – the Franco-German leadership duo is being mistrusted for fear of a private agenda (especially in Paris) and their bullyish recent behavior while, notably Spain and Poland are trying to use these fears to get a better deal for giving up some of their overproportional votes in the Council.

Institutional changes will clearly be the most difficult subject to deal with, not least because it’s much easier for the public to figure out winners and losers, which in turn increases the pressure on the people negotiating. But, again, EU agreements are package deals which are so difficult to disentangle that it becomes almost impossible to find out if anyone lost, or – if anyone got a better deal than the others. There’s always something in there for everybody.

So, as the IHT states,

“[i]t is of course possible that last- minute negotiations will yield a deal acceptable to all 25 new and existing members. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister who is mediating the negotiations, said Sunday that he was “55 percent optimistic” that a deal could be struck at the summit meeting of EU leaders, which begins Friday in Brussels.”

It all depends on the layout of chessboard and those playing. Which moves are allowed, which are off-limits? What’s your opinion, what will be the outcome, if there will be one (which I am still rather confident about, although some newspapers are reporting leaked news that there are already backup plans to reintroduce the constitutional draft next spring). Maybe the blogosphere, still outside the public limelight – is the better place to discuss these kind of things these days ;)…