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Behind Closed Doors: The EU Summit


What really happened last Friday as France and Germany's proposal for economic coordination was not well received. (Hint: It may or may not involve leather collars.)

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on Cindeurella.

The European heads of state and government who convened last Friday in Brussels for a leaders' summit found a nasty surprise in their folders, courtesy of the Franco-German de facto presidency of the EU. Our spies in Brussels give us an unofficial report of the events, not much publicized in the press:

From the beginning it was clear that this meeting was not going to follow the seasoned script that has been fermented to perfection like a rare French cheese, so moldy and smelly it's hard to sit within a meter of it. The chairman's place had been removed and two easily recognizable special-size seats (one extra wide, the other actually a regular seat with a thick cushion on it) were replacing it, side by side at the head of the table.

The President of the Council of the European Union (don't you confuse him with the President of the European Council, or, God forbid, with the Council of Europe, or with the President of the European Commission -- but who would do that, right?), who found that a waiting chair had been accosted to the far end corner of the table and marked with a piece of paper bearing the name of his country hastily and incorrectly written on it, started making the rounds to try to get support for his reinstatement, but to no avail.

The leaders kept confusing his country with Romania and soon it became clear that nobody knew his name and couldn't pronounce it if told. Worst, nobody seems to be sure who should be presiding. ("It was all kind of clear before Lisbon Treaty, but now it's just a bloody mess.") Finally, though, a consensus emerged that this was a meeting of the European Council, not the Council of the European Union, and so it had to be chaired by a certain guy with an impossible name from Belgium (or was it from Luxembourg?). This obviously settled that the Franco-German de facto presidency would chair as usual.

There was quite an stir when the leaders opened their folders looking for some clues on what to discuss (see an artist's rendering of the event, since no cameras are allowed in the Council of the European Union… or was it the European Council? now I see why everyone calls them "summits".)

The leaders were indignant about this new proof of German passion for leader (and the French frivolous willingness to accommodate any potentially successful fashion). Not only were the leashes too short for comfort, but the one-size-fits-all collars had a worryingly small diameter.

They had come willing to accept everything and they would have been content with some small customization of the items (a fancier color for the Italians, some extra rations in the form of fiscal transfers for Greeks, Spaniards, Irish etc), but Angela Merkel appeared determined to prove that the leather school that has made her country famous in the X-rated film industry is not undeserved.

The collars were practically unwearable, full of spikes like tax harmonization, retirement age postponement, and lower than inflation wages adjustments. Even Silvio Berlusconi, a veteran of many bizarre an evening, is said to have flinched at the sight of the things.

There was hell to pay. The little guys were so angry they decided to storm a vending machine in the cafeteria and ordered their bodyguards to neutralize the cashier, an old lady from Belarus. And this was pretty much the end of the revolt, since the espressos were really good and everybody started discussing soccer.

The fact that that feckless haiku writer from Luxembourg (or was he from Belgium?) has been assigned the task to try and reach a consensus proves it is an impossible mission. Even the unlikely couple chairing the meeting on Friday must have seen that, otherwise they wouldn't have thrown the towel like this.
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