Is the European Union brave - or blundering?

The EU is still trying to digest the fiasco that has resulted from its failed attempts to massage Cyprus into a united shape.

Yet already the European Commission has launched into another ambitious exercise in international diplomacy, with a bid to forge new links with Libya.

The initiative itself may be good.

But even the safest pair of hands might find this African assignment something of a challenge. And confidence in the EU's Mediterranean policy skills is at a historic low after Cyprus.

The Cyprus result was very, very bad. And most at fault was the EU's serious deficiency in seeing far enough ahead.

Now it is clear that giving the Greek Cypriots the opportunity of accession with or without a unification deal was a miscalculation that lost the EU most of its potential leverage to induce a resolution of the dispute.

In the wake of the Greek Cypriot rejection of a settlement, no amount of new EU manoeuvring can disguise the fact that the EU lost the plot.

That is why many in Europe and beyond are holding their breath as they watch the EU's new Mediterranean venture develop.

And there was little to reassure spectators over the sureness of the EU's touch as Romano Prodi...

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