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A long and difficult night at the European Union summit

Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy is surrounded by bodyguards as he walks to a news conference at the European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, on the morning of Dec. 9, 2011.

Sebastien Pirlet / EPA

Journalists wait for news from the meeting of European heads of state in Brussels early in the morning on Friday.

John Thys / AFP - Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the resumption of talks on Friday morning.

It was a long night for everybody at the European Union summit in Brussels. As we report today, the 27 EU presidents and prime ministers began their talks at 7:30 Thursday evening and continued past 4:30 a.m.

The leaders then emerged to face the cameras, each aiming to spin the outcome in a way that would best please his or her domestic audience. After that, perhaps, a chance to sleep. But not for long -- the talks were due to resume at 9.30 a.m on Friday.

The politicians were not the only ones to pull an all-nighter. As The Economist's Charlemagne columnist writes, "We journalists are probably too bleary-eyed after a sleepless night to understand the full significance of what has just happened." 

The writer is too modest: the Charlemagne article is a good place to start if you would like to know more about the long-term implications of the summit.

Related content: Enjoy looking at pictures of politicians making nice? Indulge yourself with more photos of diplomacy at work on PhotoBlog.

Yves Herman / Reuters

British Prime Minister David Cameron looks at German Chancellor Angela Merkel after summit talks resumed on Friday.