Summitry: the Increasingly Frequent Meetings of European Leaders

Författare: Tarschys Daniel

European leaders are increasingly seen moving from airplanes to the negotiation table and on to photo opportunities. Summits have become commonplace. Could the increasing frequency of high-level political meetings be a symptom and a cause of power shifts? Daniel Tarschys considers and sets out some questions about contemporary statecraft. (2023:12epa)

High-level political meetings are not a new phenomenon but have become increasingly common in recent decades. Today's leaders are much more involved in international negotiations and discussions than their predecessors were.

In this European Policy Analysis, Daniel Tarschys outlines the various high-level forums in which European leaders participate. A key institution is the European council, which defines the general political directions and priorities for the EU.

But EU leaders meet in many more forums, both within and outside European political organizations. Some summits are held on a regular basis, others are organized ad hoc, by invitation. Most summits merely confirm agreements already made, while others actually result in strategic decisions being made.

This shift in international politics is analysed in many different fields of research. One interpretation is that the intense schedule of meetings between leaders reflects how power has been transferred from nation states to more elevated power centres.

The author argues that power shifts may be in play but that it is too early to draw conclusions. Instead, the analysis concludes with a set of open questions about the implications of summitry.

The author is a senior advisor at SIEPS with extensive experience in international negotiations, including as former Secretary General of the Council of Europe.