By Ray Fleming

THE unanticipated coincidence of the long-planned Cannes G20 summit and the last-minute eurozone crisis precipitated by Greek premier Papandreou's referendum call might have worked to Europe's advantage since several world leaders were on the spot to give a helping hand. But, as yesterday's summit communiqué showed, that did not happen. Its reference to the ambitious recovery plan drawn up by the eurozone members on October 26 did no more than welcome its contents and urge a speedy implementation; and the reference to the need for non-European contributions to the eurozone's bail-out stability fund made clear that there had been none and were unlikely to be any in the future.

The implied warning in President Obama's comment at his press conference was clear: “I'm confident the key players in Europe understand how much of a stake they have in making sure this crisis is resolved.” Yet even as the participants left Cannes yesterday afternoon there was no clarity on the outcome of the frantic three-day crisis. Almost everything still depended on which option the devious or bewildered Mr Papandreou chose to take and what its implications might be in Greece and Europe. Only one thing is certain: most of the G20 leaders will have left Cannes with a somewhat reduced opinion of the European Union as a third force in the world.

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