British Ambassador Peter Ricketts sipped Earl Grey tea with two dozen AAPA members over breakfast at the top of the Paris Thomson Reuters building, displaying his diplomatic knack for giving very little away and only letting the genteel demeanor slip briefly while expressing Britain’s frustration with the slowness of euro zone leaders to come up with a convincing solution to the debt crisis.


The June 22 gathering was timely, coinciding with a four-way meeting in Rome to prepare the end-June EU summit.  Ricketts warned that Europe was “coming to the end of the road” as endless meetings put off the toughest decisions and said it was time euro zone leaders took action to stand behind their banks and take steps towards mutualising their debt. “You can sense the impatience in London,” he said, noting the euro bloc is talking about fiscal integration 15 years too late.


Sir Peter, framed by a view of  Sacré Coeur, discussed President François Hollande’s debut on the European and world stage, as he tries to move on from the “Merkozy” era and stand up to Berlin with his push for growth measures to accompany austerity. Sir Peter denied that Paris was becoming the new obstacle to finding a solution, however, and correctly predicted that Hollande, a man who is tougher on the inside than he sometimes appears on the outside, might play a role in finding a consensual solution at the Brussels summit. He also reiterated Britain’s absolute refusal to sign up to a financial transactions tax, unless it were to be a global one.


Sir Peter, one of the AAPA’s two honorary co-presidents and formerly the UK government’s national security adviser, also talked about the deadlock in the Syrian crisis ahead of the third Friends of Syria meeting inParis. Other topics included the tensions between Iran and Israel- whose threats are not a bluff in his opinion – and the continued need for Britain and France to cooperate in defence, particularly in sharing aircraft carriers.

-Catherine Bremer