February 26, 2010

The plot against Lady Ashton After Jose Manuel Baroso and Herman Van Rompuy, Catherine Ashton is now the European figure that everyone loves to hate. Only a few months into her much criticised mandate as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, can she hang on? The press laments a rudderless Europe. Just three months into her mandate as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, and the questions begs as to whether Catherine Ashton is heading for the exit. “Simmering discontent” at her performance has “turned into outright criticism,” announces The Times. According to the London daily, this “sniping” has been initiated by France, which “wanted a strong minister of foreign affairs,” but is now spreading across the continent. European Union heads are incensed, it seems, that she failed to attend the European defence ministers’ meeting with the Nato Secretary General in Majorca on 25 February (she was at the inauguration of President Yanukovych in Ukraine instead). French Defence Minister Hervé Morin set the tone - “Isn’t it rich that this morning, to display the ties between Nato and the EU, we have the Nato Secretary General [Anders Fogh Rasmussen) here but not the High Representative for the first meeting since the Lisbon Treaty came into effect.” However, he was joined Dutch counterpart, Jack de Vries, who quipped on Twitter that “Madame Ashton was notable by her absence”, and also Spain’s Carme Chacón, who “regretted Ashton’s absence.”


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