A spirit of cooperation is tested ahead of a crucial series of meetings to prepare for a Nov. 15 US summit.
As European leaders gather next week in a crescendo of meetings ahead of a Nov. 15 global financial summit – a "Bretton Woods II" in Washington – they face an old problem: unity.
That summit, described variously as "visionary" and "bold" under the leadership of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is designed to build on the spirit of cooperation in the rescue of world banks in the credit crisis.
As president of the European Union, and with little consultation, Sarkozy pushed economic reforms opposed by Berlin, and even hinted that France should step into key posts that govern the eurozone, and possibly even prolong its six-month EU presidency, due to end on Jan. 1.
The reaction was harsh – and prompted squabbles ahead of the Washington global summit.
With the US in a lame-duck political season, and with China unable yet to muster broad leadership, the new Bretton Woods idea, which Sarkozy urged strongly on the White House, is an opening for Europe to foster a new global model. The summit will address new standards, greater transparency, new regulation, an enhanced role for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and even the question of climate change in a time of crisis – a veritable fireworks of reform to prevent a repeat of waves of toxic assets and undisciplined markets as well as to help emerging nations.
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