"As a general rule, meetings make individuals perform below their capacity and skill levels," Reid Hastie, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, once wrote. "[P]lease, don't just call a meeting and hope the magic happens. Take charge and take personal responsibility for meeting its objectives, whatever they are."
It's advice that European Union leaders would have done well to consider as they kicked off a closely watched two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday, while Italy and Spain watch their cost of borrowing soar. With France and Germany at odds about whether to address the European debt crisis by pooling eurozone debt or better integrating the region financially and politically, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already tried to tamp down expectations for this week's summit, which is expected to produce a stimulus package and plans for a banking union.
"There is no quick solution and no simple solution," she warned in Berlin on Wednesday. "There is no one magic formula ... with which the government debt crisis can be overcome in one go."
The thing is, when it comes to major EU summits in Brussels, the region's heads of state haven't had one go -- they've had roughly 20 since 2010 (albeit with a changing cast of characters, as 14 of the 27 EU countries have switched leaders since the debt crisis began). And if the previous crisis-management meetings are any guide, we should expect this week's summit to be long on talk of turning points and short on game-changing results. Here's a look at what European leaders have accomplished in their previous gatherings -- and how they've chosen to frame those achievements.