Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: European
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Should European summits be scrapped?
After the protests and violence in Nice and Gothenburg, tension is rising in Genoa where the G8 leaders are gathering amid unprecedented security.

The European Commission president, Romano Prodi, has appealed for an end to the "siege atmosphere", saying such summits had grown into an "extravagant and excessive machine."

What should be done? Are summits a waste of time? Does anything actually get decided there? And in the age of technological advances, would it be better to hold teleconferences instead?

For this week's Europewide Debate, Europe Today's Johannes Dell brought together the Italian MEP and former commissioner Emma Bonino in Rome, and the European political analyst John Palmer in Brussels.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a seletion of your comments.


The EU is all about resolving Europe's problems through peaceful means

Stuart Bonar, UK
The EU is all about resolving Europe's problems through peaceful means, rather than by war. We must never forget that. These summits are a way to bring together Europe's leaders in peace to try to resolve our shared problems. And the pursuit of peace is never a waste of time.
Stuart Bonar, UK

Of course, European summits are NOT a waste of time. As a Russian (read "a European excluded from the benefits of common Europe"), I see a lot of good in Western Europe thanks to summit decisions. Only most of my western neighbours take the benefits for granted and exaggerate the drawbacks (I acknowledge they exist too).
Yevgeni, Moscow, Russia

Face-to-face meetings are valuable because they humanise the leaders to each other. So, to hold down security costs, they should meet on an isolated island like Midway. There should be enough facilities there at the old naval base and it's so far from anything that at most 40 or 50 protesters could manage to get there. The leaders could get a lot of business done because there's nothing else to do there.
Ralph, USA


Talking face to face is always going to be more effective than any other way

Nikody, USA
The fact is that the effect of talking face to face with people is always going to be more effective than any other way. The reason for this is the ability to read people, and interact with them. Interaction with other people over the computer is not yet developed enough to recreate the environment of an actual face to face conversation, whereas talking over the phone leaves the very important visual aspect of the conversation out of the equation. So until technology catches up with reality, one is forced to meet face to face.
Nikody, USA

The fact is that for the leaders of our nations to capitulate to these aggressive protesters and stop these summits would be against every democratic principle that the vast majority of Europeans stand for. Technologies aside, summits must continue as a matter of principle as a standpoint against violent protests aimed at disrupting the democratic processes of the European Community.
Rhys, United Kingdom


What difference would their carving up the world via video conference make?

Max Flanigan, England
Politicians are alientated from the public anyway and so what difference would their carving up the world via video conference make in contrast to face to face negotiation? The only difference is that they would lie to each other with greater ease! The question illustrated "today's technological age" and so in such conditions why can we not pre-plan these conferences by holding public referendums which issues the people feel strongest about and subsequently televise the entire proceedings so that we may really hear what our elected representatives have to say on the matter? Not only would this inject a much needed sincerity into politics but we might also see some accountability and consequently, action!
Max Flanigan, England

The main issue is, what is this body of 8? They are not elected or appointed by anyone. They can call each other if they like on the phone but they are not justified to present themselves as a body with authority to take decisions for the planet. United Nations is still alive (if I'm not mistaken).
Dimitrios, Athens, Greece

Politicians talk about global warming and then go to conferences by air - using considerably more fuel per mile than car or boat. The answer definitely is teleconferencing (and cheaper for us the taxpayer).
Ian, England


Wheeling and dealing by electronic means would make the political process even less transparent than it is already

Peter, Netherlands
Wheeling and dealing by electronic means would make the political process even less transparent than it is already. To adopt such methods in an attempt to do away with the excesses of expenditure on security and creature comforts for the politicians involved, amounts to throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Peter, Netherlands

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Listen now
...to both sides of the debate
See also:

19 Jul 01 | Europe
Protesters flood into Genoa
18 Jun 01 | Europe
Analysis: Gothenburg's legacy
11 Dec 00 | Europe
Analysis: Doubts beset Nice deal
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more European stories