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Lessons of Copenhagen

Multilateralism is easier to advocate than implement.

Although it is what Europe wants, this is not so certain for the UN.

The conference in Copenhagen on climate provided a paltry image of the international community, a truly virtual notion.

Was it really necessary to convene the representatives of 192 countries and 110 heads of State for such a result?

We can always comfort ourselves by saying that there is not one leader who can continue to ignore environmental issues or acknowledge that international relations are still determined by the protection of short term interests that also have to be satisfied.

In spite of the commitment on the part of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown and the exemplary decisions taken by the EU in the fight to counter climate change the result of this conference is disappointing because it is just the beginning of a slow procedure and yet we were expecting real decisions.

True multilateralism, "Europe style" as we see it from our experience in Europe demands acknowledged global institutions that have their own competences, with restrictive rules the application of which can be monitored and a courageous political will to act together for the long term.

But these are goals that are not shared by either the UN and its Secretary General, nor by the Member States of this global organisation.

But the meeting in Copenhagen also revealed that the main Continent-States are now thinking along the lines of traditional power and are acting accordingly.

The USA was already doing this but now this vision is shared by the Chinese and the Indians. The concept of sovereignty is still the limit of opening, and the power struggle is that of a good conscience.

Although in these negotiations the future of the planet was in the balance, this also applies to the EU.

It cannot accept that world decisions be taken within a G2, between America and China.

This couple which everything opposes finds its base on the shifting sand of an extremely dangerous creditor-debitor relationship.

It has not been built on shared values and a long term project.

It is simply the personification of a very unsound Realpolitik. Nothing good will come of it for the world.

So the EU must take hold of one the last remaining opportunities open to it if it is to have as much political influence as its economy, ie being the world leader.

It has to speak with one political voice during the next meeting planned in Bonn in six months time.

It has to sharpen up its tools to lead the negotiations and be quick to use them to lend credibility to its proposals.

Any other formula in which European Member States would speak alone or content themselves with the trimmings of idealism is vowed to failure, as shown by Denmark's painful experience in this makeshift meeting.

Next time leadership will be European – or not.

The future conference must be addressed as a real negotiation between continents, with texts that have been previously discussed, professionals at work, with leaders taking real political decisions and who are forced to be courageous by a confident leadership.

As for international public opinion it might be good for it to have greater scientific enlightenment and not just pressure from the activist lobby turned hooligan for the time of the meeting.

Expectations would be more legitimate.

The environment and the planet need Europe.

Europe needs to excel and show its strength and power.

Public opinion is also expecting this.