Tuesday, July 10, 2007

EU puts pedal to metal

While EU politics may be a non-stop process, press coverage of the EU is usually a cyclical phenomenon. Granted, in a media-saturated world like ours one can always find news, especially about an organization as vast as the EU. But it remains noticeable how, in the depths of the lull between big summits and important ministerial meetings, real news tends to give way to speculation and prediction. It’s the down time, where academics can concentrate on their policy papers and thinktanks publish formal suggestions on "how to go forward." Everyone waits for the spectacle of the next meeting of powerful people at a palace. Then, a week before the summit, the press comes to town and starts hyping the thing up like it was the Cannes film festival—which it is, in a way.

All the heads of state come out, impeccably dressed, accompanied by their wives. They greet each other heartily (BFF!), pose for the cameras, make hopeful statements, and disappear into the palace for a smashing meal. And whereas 10 years ago the press might've taken time to react to the proceedings, today’s growing EU news industry, and their accompanying gaggle of bloggers, are more akin to play-by-plan commentators at a weekend-long sporting event. They’re not allowed in the stadium, but they’ve got anonymous sources and telescopic lenses. The drama in its full complexity is made public, as if on tape delay. All we have to do is sit at our computers and absorb it all. It’s like being there, but better, because you don’t have to wear that annoying translation earpiece and pretend to pay attention the whole time. Au contraire! You can stay home with 8 other tabs open, some music on, and munch on some crackers while awaiting the latest development:

Polish delegation refuses to cooperate!
Drunken Sarko makes 11th hour phone call to recalcitrant Poles!
Merkel struggles to remain level-headed host!
Gordon Brown tries to be useful despite fact that he will be hated at home for whatever he does!
Zapatero contributes ideas but continues to look exceedingly awkward!
Will the leaders pull together and save the constitution with the coup de grace of longer calling it a constitution? Or will the EU fall on its own sword and drown in a pool of its own mixed blood?

It’s all very exciting, tu vois. It’s not Lost or 24, but it’s better, because it’s REAL. The last-minute fireworks of the Brussels summit will now set up an intriguing Portuguese presidency. As mentioned here, the Portuguese face the Sysephean task of pushing the constitutional boulder to level ground—we’ll all be rooting for them!

In the meantime, the press has another week to cover the fallout from Brussels, do a bit of speculating (with which they have not wasted their time) and can then turn to building back up the hype for kickoff in Lisbon in two weeks:

Will the little Portuguese manage such a great historic responsibility?
Will Sarko flub EU financial regulations in order to fulfill domestic campaign promises?
Will the Polish twins fuck up their country, or are two heads really better than one?
Will the deconstitutionalized Constitution finally get approved so we can move on with our lives?

The EU press will be sure to keep you abreast, and I will be happy to untangle the exciting details for you. Can you feel the excitement, people? It's like the fuckin' NBA playoffs!

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