Better Luck Next Year

JOHANNES EISELE / AFP-GETTY IMAGES TOUGH TIMES: Merkel and Chirac try to get along

Squabbling over money is hardly the best way to enter the winter holidays, but it is a fitting way for the European Union to mark the end of a genuinely bad year. As government leaders gather this week in Brussels for a bruising negotiating marathon over the budget for 2007 to 2013, they are looking into a void. "There is no constitution, no economic reform, and it looks like there is going to be no budget agreed," says Denis MacShane, Britain's Europe Minister until last May. "It is probably the unhappiest year in European construction since the end of World War...

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