European Council on Foreign Relations

Intriguing facts at the G20…

The prize for the most intriguing fact from the G20 in Seoul goes to the BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, who reports the following in her 'Stephanomics' blog:

"Western officials should have realised this summit would be different when they arrived in Seoul to find their smartphones didn't work. The problem was that Korea's nationwide 4G network was too advanced. On early negotiating missions, key UK officials found themselves communicating with London via e-mail, on rented phones.

"That was never a problem in Pittsburgh, or in Toronto. But as George Osborne liked to point out, this was the first G20 summit not hosted by a G8 country - and, he might have added, the first where G8 countries didn't call the tune."



Berlusconi’s way with press conferences

Prime minister Berlusconi does not hold press conferences at the end of European Council Meetings. We all know that by now. But the news is that this time he was the only leader who cancelled his press conference at the end of the G20 Summit in Seoul.

This may be quite a sensible move on his part, given the current situation he his facing in Italy.

I have personally assisted several press conferences in the margins of the G8 or G20 in my former job as an Italian advisor, and unfortunately I have to say that too many times journalists missed the opportunity to ask questions related to the real results of these Summits. Too many questions dwelled on the garbage piling up in the streets of Naples, on internal politics, on potential scandals. Very little about what Italy and the G8 or G20 are doing to combat the economic crisis, poverty in the world or climate change.

Considering the

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Uncomfortable moments with Putin

The Council Meeting is over and I’m back in rainy old London, within earshot of Big Ben’s chimes, and able to put a little more work into getting lift-off with the blog.

One important aim of this blog is not just to provide the analysis (see Francois Godement’s blog post about Hu Jintao’s European tour for an example of that) but also to point our readers in the direction of what we ourselves are reading or listening to - so this morning I’ve been working on the Blog Roll.

The limited list of blogs that I’ve put up there are a testament to how important blogs have become in disseminating information - for the real inside track it’s not just a question of picking up the Economist or the FT and reading the formal thoughts of Gideon Rachman or David Rennie. It’s now even more useful to hear what they’re saying in a format that’s sometimes rather closer to having a

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An oddly timed victory

Why does anything connected to IT have to be so much trouble? No sooner is the blog up and running than other bits of the website start creaking at the seams - Apologies for anything that has gone missing, and we hope it’ll be up and running soon.

So, what with the website glitches, preparations for our Council Meeting here in Brussels, and a board meeting, it’s been a rather frantic time. And in the middle of it came the news, late last night, that ECFR had won Prospect magazine’s award for “best UK-based think tank of the year dealing with non-UK affairs” - great news, although our offices in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Sofia and Rome might have something to say about the ‘UK-based’ bit of the award…

Apparently there’s a trophy involved, and Anthony and Hans, who managed to show up at the award ceremony last night, are hopefully carrying it aloft on the Eurostar from

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What’s in a name?

Hello and welcome to the first posting on ECFR’s new blog – ‘Whose World Order?’ We’ll take a while to get up to speed, but the idea is to bring you insights and analysis from all our experts in bite-sized form.

I’ll kick off the blog with a few bits and pieces from our annual ECFR Council Meeting – which this year is being held in the European Parliament building in Brussels. But first, a quick word about the title.

The original idea was from Nick Witney – ‘agora’, a place of assembly in old Greek city states. It seemed ideal, so I got to work on a suitable image…

But then somebody said it was too much like a European Commission idea, so it was scrapped. We asked for suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, as well as ECFR’s staff. We ended up with a list including:



Kissinger Calling

1voice4EU (was this a joke, Daniel?)

Monnet’s Memo.

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