WHAT “exactly” is Nicolas Sarkozy up to? And why is Tony Blair aiding and abetting him in whatever it is? Currently President Sarkozy has plans for at least three summits on his mind. The first will be next month's normal European Summit which will bring France's presidency of the European Union to a close. But the other two are go-it-alone events which Mr. Sarkozy is apparently busy organising without authority from anyone other than himself.

I wrote last Sunday in this space about the summer summit he plans to bring Russia and the United States and the EU together to discuss European security in general and specifically the missile defence system which America intends to instal in Poland and the Czech Republic; only Russia had been consulted about this meeting before it was made known to the world! Of greater and more immediate concern, however, is the economic summit that has been announced for January 8/9 in Paris which is to be co-hosted by Sarkozy and Tony Blair. In the light of immediate criticism it has been downgraded to a “conference” but that does not hide the fact that it appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the meetings agreed on to follow-up the important work launched at last weekend's G20s financial crisis gathering in Washington. According to US sources, Sarkozy left that meeting saying it had “changed the world” - but then returned home to announce his own show which he had not once mentioned in Washington.