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Forget Nobel Peace Prize, EU launches summit warfare

November 23, 2012
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Source: Reuters

European flag outside the Commission

The European Union may have won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, but to many EU leaders, officials, diplomats and even journalists, it can feel more like a torture chamber.

Increasingly, Europe is governed at night by leaders in an advanced state of exhaustion, disregarding scientific evidence that this can lead to bad decisions, or non-decisions.

Over the past three years, the EU has held 25 summits to try to tackle its debt crisis and related economic turmoil, with few of those meetings ending before 3 or 4 a.m. -- usually after 12 hours or more of near-fruitless negotiation.

Add to that more than 40 finance ministers' meetings -- the most recent of which ended at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, again without agreement -- and it is easy to see how a set of institutions designed to foster peace and stability in Europe can end up delivering frustration, angst and head-numbing pain.

"I'll put it this way: I woke up at 5 a.m. or 5.30 a.m. yesterday and we ended in the morning around 4 a.m.," Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico complained after the last, largely unsuccessful summit in October.

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