On Tuesday a numerically impressive delegation of Europeans will be in Washington for the first formal US-European Union summit since Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration last January. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s prime minister, will be there in his capacity as leader of the country that holds the EU’s rotating presidency. So will Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister. So will Javier Solana, the EU’s head of foreign policy. So will Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU’s external affairs commissioner. So will José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president – and from what I hear, a few other bigwigs are going along for the ride as well.
This is quite a turnout. It would be nice to think it reflects an exceptionally warm and constructive relationship between the Obama administration and its EU allies. But as a timely new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations points out, the real picture is less rosy. “To Americans, these summits are all too typical of the European love of process over substance, and a European compulsion for everyone to crowd into the room regardless of efficiency,” write the authors, Nick Witney and Jeremy Shapiro. Read more