On Foreign Exchange yesterday, I posted a recap of some of my impressions of the summit, as well as from the mass of literature I took away with me. Towards the end of the post, I made the following point:
“I would add something to this: to the extent that every one of these big summits is a test case for the whole idea of global institutions and global governance, a large part of the success will depend on the success of smaller international governance bodies from the African Union to the EU to the G20 to build consensus among their members first and then project that consensus in big global negotiations. At this summit, the Europeans seemed to understand that best. The point on which they rallied–the Tobin Tax–is problematic in that the subject of the tax seems arbitrary and not intrinsically linked to what it’s designed to fund, and that the implementation is still fuzzy, but it was also one of the more interesting ideas on the table and it would be JUST sufficient to raise the capital [about $25-30 billion] needed to reach our anti-poverty targets. But leaving aside the policy, it’s notable that the proposal was supported by a host of countries who don’t always agree with one another and in remarkably consistent language. In other words, we saw a brief glimpse of what long-awaited unified European foreign policy is meant to look like.”
The whole post wasn’t about Europe, so I didn’t go further. But I want to add some more to this: it’s worth noting that several of the top bodies involved with this work (the WTO and the IMF most significantly) have European heads and that a European government had the chairmanship of the whole Summit. To the extent that there were new financial commitments this year, they came from the Europeans–both from national governments and from the European Commission, and pointedly not from other first world nations. The U.S. announced that it was going to commit, essentially to a strategic review, which is a classic diplomatic fudge. Add this to the fact that the Europeans were saying, for better or worse, the most interesting and substantive things on stage–and that a relatively low level of drama was forthcoming from the UN’s usual extreme characters–and it really did feel to me like it was Europe’s week. Which is strange, as I was one of those people predicting total diplomatic collapse after Greece. But it is also wonderful, because I was one of those people gleefully cheering the Europe project on for years before that.
For the rest of my take on the summit, and some great stats on success stories across the developing world, read the whole post.