West of London, Hampton Court Palace was chosen for the summit to provide a convivial backdrop. The former home of King Henry VIII, who went through six wives in his quest for a male heir, is particularly proud of its ghosts. The UK presidency wanted a historic setting in which to discuss modernising. European Policy Centre analyst John Palmer comments:“I don’t expect anything of significant to come from the Hampton Court informal European Council. I don’t think anybody expected any big decision of any kind. It is not a decision-making occasion. It is basically an attempt by Tony Blair to re-establish relations with some of his key partners that were badly damaged at the time of the last European Council.” Yet Paul Magnette, with Brussels Free University’s European Studies Institute, says Downing Street’s strategy may be quite effective, and there is more here than meets the eye. “Presidencies also set out to alter the terms of debate; you could say that’s what Tony Blair sought to do on the budget and agriculture. Agriculture is 40% of the budget. Even if he does not get a decision, a budget deal, if he manages to re-jig the balance of power among the member states he will have scored an important goal.”. When Blair sent the invitations, he said the central question would be how to stay competitive while keeping citizens safe in a world of unprecedented movement of goods, capital and people.
Conviviality summit under way (don't mention the budget