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Brown between rock and hard place [Mar. 20th, 2009|01:47 pm]
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Brussels -- Gordon Brown has insisted that, contrary to all the headlines, he is on track to secure a "global new deal" to combat the economic crisis when 20 world leaders gather in London on April 2. Speaking just now at the close of a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels, the PM played down the differences between America, which is calling on European nations to adopt a bigger fiscal stimulus, and Europe, which wants to see how its measures work before taking new ones. He insisted the EU meeting had "laid the foundations" for a successful G20 London event.
Brown looks like piggy in the middle, an uncomfortable place. He can't say much about what he wants; he has to play the role of honest broker because he is chairing the London summit. He has a complicated game of 20-dimensional chess to play over the next two weeks, trying to get everyone on the same page. A total disaster in London is unlikely, if only because that would scare the financial markets and compound the crisis. But Brown wants more than just a bland statement of intent. He had to set the bar high to prod other countries into action. But that potentially makes him the fall-guy if he doesn't get agreement on everything.
Despite the focus on the transatlantic tensions, some here in Brussels think the biggest stumbing block to a meaty agreement will not be Europe or the US but China. It doesn't welcome outside interference and may oppose plans for global rules for the financial system. Brown will have his work cut out but his determination cannot be faulted.
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