Some other EU bloggers (see Dominika Pszczółkowska and Tony Barber) are concerned about the rather poor turnout at the Eastern Partnership summit in Prague this week. But is it remotely surprising? And should we care?
The Czech Presidency has been a farce – Topolanek who tried to hold it together is no longer there, and Klaus did his best to poke fun at the EU with his speech in the European Parliament, and there was controversy when MEPs came to Prague. Furthermore Sarko and Klaus have had their problems before. In those circumstances I can understand why some other leaders do not want to turn up.
The UK has traditionally sought favour with the countries of central and eastern Europe simply because those countries are perceived to be pro-free market. But even the Poland-UK relationship looks a bit rocky at the moment. France, Spain and Italy have no particular reason to care. Germany – reliant on gas from the east – does care and sends Merkel. Plus the Czechs should be OK with David Miliband attending from the UK as he’s much better at EU negotiations and is less EU-sceptic than Brown is.
Then there’s the backdrop to all of this. The EU is still worried about how to deal with the financial crisis, everything else is rather secondary. The Commission is drifting towards the end of its term, leaving the EU rather rudderless. The Czech Presidency has been weak and poorly organised. So is there any remote surprise that the summit is not a high priority?