Europeans have always treasured their long summer vacations, and that goes for their leaders as well. As the European economy teeters on the precipice, Nicolas Sarkozy is by the Mediterranean in his swimming trunks. His prime minister is vacationing in Tuscany. British Chancellor George Osborne is in California, where he rode the Jurassic Park log flume at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The entire 15-member Cabinet of debt-ridden Ireland has left Dublin, though the finance minister is taking calls from his home in Limerick.
Some analysts say this has left the continent rudderless just when firm action is needed. Those government spokesmen who can be reached say none of this makes any difference. What with mobile phones and laptops, European leaders can conduct business from anywhere, including, presumably, poolside. The mantra of the month for European spokespeople is "constant contact," as in, "my boss is in constant contact with other European leaders, even though photos have appeared of him riding a bike or climbing a mountain..."