“Look here, upon this picture, and on this…” Two European summits within a week — the EU Council in Brussels and the North Atlantic Council in Madrid — invite the scrutiny that the Prince of Denmark (a member state of both organisations) urged upon his mother. As in the original comparison, one picture is heroic, the other banal. The EU summit has concluded in its usual deceptive style; much better is expected of NATO next week.
The two bodies began as equal contenders. The Russian army had scarcely trampled the first wheatfields of Ukraine beneath its tank tracks than the European Union, suddenly and unexpectedly, appeared to counter Putin’s aggression with a prompt, comprehensive and effective response. Jaded observers of Brussels’ customary obfuscation were startled. When this was compounded by Germany, second only to Ireland in the self-interested neutrality stakes, hiking its defence budget to a level that might have made Poles nervous and promising heavy armaments for Ukraine, commentators were at a loss for superlatives.