Obama won't be attending the upcoming EU-US summit in Madrid. Do you feel abandoned? Alone? Unloved?
Despite the talk this will generate, there's not really that much to say. Obama is a smart man, and if there's a point to attending, he will attend. We might wring our hands over the loss in status and perceived snubs, but at the end of the day if the EU doesn't prove itself to be a valid global actor, then it won't attract a global guest list to its summits. That the summit is in Madrid doesn't really matter (as Julien Frisch highlights), but it does indicate why Obama won't bother coming: the central institutions are loosing out to the member states.
The Economist has a very good article on the need for Ashton to assert herself against a Spanish rotating presidency meddling in EU foreign policy. If Ashton can't even slap down member states for floating policy ideas as policy fact, then what does that say for the credibility of the Lisbon institutions? Would you dial a number if the person at the end of the line is too afraid to speak?
In short, there's no point wringing our hands over this latest loss in prestige. We need to get to grips with where we want to go with our foreign policy (and on who will do what both in foreign policy and domestically), and how we're going to get there. Then others will be willing to talk to us about it.