Monti emerged from the late-night negotiations as a clear victor, having broken Chancellor Angela Merkel's resistance just as Italian striker Mario Balotelli cracked the German defense on the pitch in Warsaw earlier in the evening. In 15 hours of negotiations in Brussels, Monti together with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy secured easier access to the permanent euro-zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
The session ended at 4:20 a.m. on Friday morning. Ten minutes later, Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced the breakthrough at a press conference. At 5:00 a.m., Monti, the winner of the evening, appeared at the Council building's exit. He gave a press conference on the way to the car -- and announced that he will travel to the European Championship football final in Kiev on Sunday.
The eurozone political leaders are always in a state of (mimicked) drunkenness when making important decisions about the euro! And regrettably there are no signs that they are going to sober up anytime soon:
If the leaders of the 17 euro-area countries really want to solve the debt crisis shadowing their currency, they may want to sleep on it.
That’s not likely to happen. Of Europe’s last six summits, three ended no earlier than 4 a.m. The most recent, on June 29, ended at 5 a.m. And finance chiefs’ monthly gatherings routinely extend past midnight.
Those late hours haven’t served European leaders well and may be one reason why their next meeting, to hammer out a bailout for Spain’s banks on July 20, is scheduled to begin at noon. Lack of sleep, the evidence shows, has played a role in faulty decision-making that led to disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill as well as the ill-fated launch of the space shuttle Challenger.
“We’re not well designed to work well into the night,” Chris Idzikowski, a co-founder of the British Sleep Society who has explored the land of nod for more than three decades, said in an interview. “It has to be one of the worst times to do negotiations.”
Remaining awake too long mimics the effects of being legally drunk, according to recent research. Staying up past your natural bedtime can make you more vulnerable to another’s influence and likelier to take risks. It can impair brain function and lead to misjudgments.
European political leaders, then, may want to go to bed at a “normal” time, say between 10 p.m. and midnight, and let sleep do its job, said Idzikowski, who is director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre in Scotland. “The brain does think about solutions during sleep,” particularly during rapid-eye movement, or REM, sleep, a phase associated with learning, memory and dreaming.
In people awake for 16 hours, Maas says brain activity is similar to that of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent, which is legally drunk in some jurisdictions. Staying awake for 24 hours is equivalent to having a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent -- exceeding the legal-intoxication limit in all countries involved in the talks.
“It takes a tremendous toll,” says Maas, who co-wrote the books Power Sleep and Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask.
Emotions can be one casualty of sleep loss, Maas says.
“Kids, when they’re sleep-deprived, they do indeed get cranky and cry,” he says. “Adults get wired. They get irrational, they get emotional, with symptoms similar to attention-deficit disorder. If you track mood during the day, around 4 to 5 p.m., people get really touchy,” and without a nap, it could be downhill from there.
European finance ministers met for 13 1/2 hours to hammer out a deal on a second Greek bailout, capping it with a press briefing that didn’t end until almost 6 a.m. on Feb. 21