There’s been some buzz about instituting ‘summit curfews’ to stop euro-crisis meetings going on until the early hours.
Tis rot, one fears.
The EU has a long history of the toughest issues being negotiated late into the night.
Even ministerials timetabled to start earlier in the day would mystically develop a long tail to conclude at much the same time as previous ‘crunch’ meetings that kicked off mid-afternoon.
An agreement isn’t worth its salt unless it’s made at 3am. When so much is at stake and a meeting has been built up to be THE last-real-final-no-it-really-is-last-this-time ditch attempt to secure accord, no self respecting minister or European leader can emerge and face the press fresh-faced around tea-time after a civil 45 minute chat and claim ‘victory.’
The presentation of the outcome must reflect the occasion. Often there’s even not that much in substance to present.
It remains vital, therefore, for the negotiators to stumble defiantly into the creeping dawn, haggard and punch-drunk, but weilding triumphantly a rebate, a red-line preserved, an extra 30 000 tonnes of cod in the North Sea, a longer phase-out of dairy quotas, or a concession on troika oversight of ESM bailouts.
It remains vital for them to look the equally haggard journalists from their national press in their bloodshot eyes and show how leaderly they are, and to will them into peppering their late copy liberally with terms such as ‘wee hours’, ‘marathon’ and ‘hard-won’. This, they pliantly do.
And it remains vital for the journalists themselves, too, to feel as though they have gone through a vocational ordeal of their own, to be able to compare notes the next day in the style of Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen: “Three hours sleep? Luxury, I had two hours and then had to be up to cover the Luxembourg market opening.” After all, there’s nothing else in a journo’s work that does as much for the esprit de press corps camaraderie than the feeling that you, the precious few hard core of nerds and martyrs, are sticking it out to the end.
And for euro-crisis summits, if that end is some time after the world’s skittish, panicky, curve-watching trillion-dollar jumped-up gambling addicts who started this all have gone to bed, all the chuffing better.