Bluff, bravado and a bit of blusher?

Mon, Jul 9, 2012, 01:00

AT THE end of an all-nighter at the June HosHogs (heads of state and heads of government) summit in Brussels, Taoiseach Enda Kenny heralded a “seismic shift in European policy”.

Despite the sleepless night, Kenny is said to have looked remarkably fresh-faced when he briefed journalists (unlike another EU bigwig who trowelled on so much make-up that, according to one Irish reporter, he resembled “Jordan at the end of a bad hen night”). And why shouldn’t the Taoiseach look good for his big moment? He was, as he said himself, a “hard grafter”. “As some of them found out, they shouldn’t tangle with me,” he said.

But was the self-congratulation on the concessions coup premature? Was there substance beneath the style, or was it just bluff, bravado and judiciously applied blusher? Will the decoupling of bank debt from sovereign states really be applied retroactively to Ireland? Are the HosHogs just rearranging the deckchairs on the good ship euro?

We should get answers to at least some of these questions today. The principles agreed at the summit were decidedly thin on specifics, but technical details are due to emerge at the euro zone finance ministers’ meeting today. However, there are already rumblings that agreement on key issues may have to be deferred until a July 20th meeting.