PositionEuropean Union to demonstrate international affairs in summit meetings, Scotland

Unprecedented world attention will be focused on the world leaders assembling in Scotland this week. In theory, it is a magnificent opportunity for the European Union to demonstrate its influence in international affairs. In practice, some uncomfortable cracks are already in evidence.

The high profile of this week's summit in Gleneagles would hardly have gone unnoticed in the capitals of Europe even if France, Germany, Italy and the UK did not have seats at this world top table. And with the EU accounting for half the G8's membership, and with the G8 Presidency currently in the hands of the EU Presidency, the highest degree of synergy might be expected, so as to maximise the EU impact.

But tensions between EU member states on some of the major agenda items are all too obvious. In line with its declared EU goals, the UK is increasing the pressure for cuts in agricultural subsidies. Artfully linked to the gathering public and political impetus for reducing poverty in the developing world, and notably in Africa, the issue of the developed world's harmful trade distortions has risen to prominence in the preparatory discussions.

The UK tactic is - deliberately or not - deepening its rift with France, which is equally determined to avert any dilution of EU agricultural spending for the next eight years.

The split is symptomatic of the uneven EU performance...

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