SUMMIT HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL?

What hasn't been achieved by this week's EU Summit is likely to overshadow what has been achieved. The confident Irish predictions of a compromise on the Constitution and a clear decision on a Commission President had not materialised by the scheduled end of the meeting, and EU leaders were obliged to face another long night of talking, or another postponement.

But irrespective of what happens late on Friday night (or Saturday morning), at least three achievements of substance could be counted by Friday afternoon.

One was the volume of work dealt with. By Friday lunchtime the conclusions of what the 25 Heads of State and Government agreed since Thursday afternoon covered some 26 pages - enshrining decisions on weighty matters ranging from new initiatives in justice and home affairs to further EU enlargements, and from the future financial framework to the next phase of the Lisbon agenda.

Another significant achievement was the fact that all this official European Council business had been completed by shortly after midday on Friday. Much of discussion had, of course, already taken place days before among Foreign Ministers, who had ironed out many of the problem areas - but this is not a fault. Rather, it is successful management, and the tangible result of the new EU approach to...

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