With everything decided beforehand, international summits are purely for show

Where is the action itself? The cut-and-thrust of debate between world leaders? There is actually very little

Jon Stone
Sunday 02 December 2018 02:34
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What actually happens inside an international summit? The answer to this question is not as obvious as you may think.

There is an air of the Potemkin about such meetings. There are huge security cordons, often closing entire city blocks, around a massive conference venue. Inside, there are lots of people sitting in a huge hall. Who are they? Journalists. What are they doing? Mostly reporting on the summit. But where is the action itself? The cut-and-thrust of debate between world leaders? There’s actually very little.

There was a clue in the news leading up to last Sunday’s Brexit showdown here in Brussels. Diplomats were briefing that Angela Merkel would not bother turning up at the meeting unless a withdrawal agreement had already been finalised, ready for her to approve.

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