The EU summit's winners and losers: A lighthearted look.

17th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

How did Gordon Brown or Donald Tusk fare? We’ll tell you.

Brussels -- Every European Union summit has winners and losers. What follows is a lighthearted assessment of some of the bloc's key players, based on official comments, media reactions and a random poll of seasoned observers in Brussels.

GORDON BROWN -- WINNER: The British Prime Minister took Brussels by storm with his recognized expertise on finance. While he may not have been the first to call for a new Bretton Woods, he was the first to provide details on what needs to be done about global capitalism.

Often snubbed in such gatherings, Brown commanded the attention of fellow EU leaders as he illustrated his four-point plan and insisted on global solutions to the financial crisis.

His Brussels shine did not go unnoticed by the British media.

"In Brussels, it is a very long time since a British prime minister looked so good. Brown is in his comfort zone, transformed from Anglo-Saxon villain to European visionary," the Guardian wrote in a sketch.

"Britain should be proud to have a prime minister who commands new attention on the world stage," wrote the conservative daily, The Times.

NICOLAS SARKOZY -- WINNER: Not content with having brought peace to Georgia, France's hyperactive president has been at the forefront of European efforts to forge a common response to the credit crunch. So involved in organizing international summits has Sarkozy been in recent weeks that even hardened Brussels journalists could not help expressing their sympathies to Monsieur le President on Thursday.

Though he may not have achieved all that he wanted from the summit, he succeeded in drawing praise from even his most traditional enemies.

"Sarko superstar. Almost bigger than he sees himself... which is a performance in itself," wrote the left-wing daily, Liberation.

As one German diplomat old the International Herald Tribune: "In a time of crisis, hyperactive becomes energetic, overbearing becomes dogged, and unpredictable becomes pragmatic."

POLAND -- LOSER: Since joining the bloc in 2004, Poland has emerged as the EU's most unpredictable, indecipherable and unreliable member. But the very public spat seen in Brussels between President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk surprised even the most seasoned of EU observers.

Having being dumped in Warsaw by Tusk, Kaczynski proceeded to charter his own jet to Brussels and then barged into the talks, despite not having the required badge. The two spent the rest of the meeting ignoring each other and giving separate, contradictory briefings to journalists.

"We witnessed the most shameful spectacle of Polish politics since 1989," wrote Rzeczpospolita, a Polish daily.

"Both are losers because the others have an easier time when there are two Poles to be ridiculed and marginalized," Gazeta Wyborcza wrote.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO -- WINNER: The European Commission chief will have a seat on a forthcoming Group of Eight extraordinary summit that will debate the financial crisis and received an endorsement for a second mandate in Brussels from the EU's conservative camp. He also achieved most of what he had wanted from the summit, including confirmation that his ambitious climate change plans would, at least for now, not be watered down.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI -- LOSER: Italy's flamboyant leader once again raised eyebrows in Brussels, this time for saying Russia should join the EU. With the bloc still grappling with the consequences of the Georgian conflict, his suggestion was condescendingly ignored.

ANGELA MERKEL – HAS BEEN: Whether by accident or by design, the German chancellor went from being the diplomatic star of recent summits to irrelevance. She left Brussels early to face critics over her own financial rescue package.


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