If they heeded an old advice by Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Europeans could have used an SMS instead of a costly summit talkfest that achieved nothing last Thursday.
Apart from agreeing to keep their Russian sanctions (a decision previously taken by their top diplomats), the European Council summit discussed an EU-wide investment program and convened to talk about it again next June. They had no idea how the program would work, and they currently have only 21 billion euros for a wish-list (yet to be presented) of projects that would require 315 billion euros. No wonder Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, quipped that Europeans were tired of projects that have to be scrapped because there was no money to do them.
And while the European hand-wringing was going on in Brussels, China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang was beaming at a ribbon-cutting ceremony of a China-built and financed 1.5 kilometer bridge over the Danube in Serbia. Yes, the Chinese apparently built it on time and on the budget -- to the delight and admiration of their Serbian hosts.
A day earlier (Wednesday, December 17), China signed with Serbia and Hungary a 1.5 billion-euro project for a high-speed train connecting Belgrade and Budapest that will cut the travel time to a little more than two hours from about eight hours at the moment. That railway line will eventually be extended all the way down to the port of Pireaus, Greece -- majority-owned by China -- to complete a new "Maritime Silk Road" to Europe.