And this time they thought they’d talk about growing Europe’s economy.
The main significance of the Merkozy summit is that it seemed to signal a shift in emphasis. True, the austerity agenda—promoted by the Germans and grudgingly accepted by the French—is still there. Indeed, Mr Sarkozy boasted that France’s fiscal deficit was smaller than expected in 2011. Europe is making swift progress towards a “fiscal pact” to limit deficits, proclaimed Mrs Merkel, including German-style “debt brakes”. A new treaty should be signed by March.
But fiscal self-denial will now be supplemented by what Mrs Merkel called a “second leg”, meaning economic growth and job creation. This is partly meant to help Mr Sarkozy, who faces a tough re-election fight this spring.