The first 24 hours of the summit in Brussels to hammer out a replacement for the European constitution has been a “phoney war”, to steal the wartime parlance that Poland’s government has adopted. Knowing that another night of skirmishing lay ahead leaders happily remained camped behind their red lines, brooking no suggestion of compromise.
This is often the way at the biannual events, if only to add a little drama in an attempt to get the public’s interest. It certainly worked for the British press, excited by Poland’s claims of compensation for its war dead.
Expectations were not high yesterday at the Justus Lipsius building that Angela Merkel’s first press conference of this week’s tricky summit would bring much in the way of predicting the eventual outcome. If anything, these sunk further as the clock ticked and the event was delayed from 10.30pm to 11.00pm, finally kicking off at just short of midnight. Even then, however, Ms Merkel’s 15-minute performance, a charming-yet-brutal exercise in stonewalling, broke records in the utter absence of information it delivered about the state of the talks about reforming the EU’s institutions.