Sunday, 22 November 2009

Catherine Ashton: Foreign policy experience and public appearances over the last year

After Thursdays choice, questions have been asked about who is the new EU "Foreign Minister" Catherine "Cathy" Ashton, and I'd like to contribute by providing some background information available on the net.

When we look at the foreign policy experience Catherine Ashton gathered over the last year, one might look at the list of important non-EU leaders she met during that time (non-comprehensive):
  • Celso Amorim, Brasilian Foreign Minister (source)
  • Rohitha Bogollagama, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister (source)
  • Simon Crean, Australian Trade Minister (source)
  • Stockwell Day, Canadian Minister of International Trade (source)
  • Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South African Foreign Minister (source)
  • Hage Geingob, Namibian Minister of Trade and Industry (source)
  • Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of Botswana (source)
  • Kim Jong-hoon, South Korean Trade Minister (source)
  • Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative (source)
  • Pascal Lamy, WTO Director General (source)
  • Elvira Nabiullina, Russian Minister for Economic Development (source)
  • Anand Sharma, Indian Trade Minister (source)
  • Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Minister (source)
We could also look at some public appearances over the last year to see how she presents herself and trade policy (her portfolio in the Commission):
I suppose that we will learn more and more about her over the months and especially of the the next years, but since "Foreign Minister" and future vice-president of the Commission Baroness Ashton will soon have to get European Parliament approval (as any other future Commissioner), I think it's already worth looking at her record from the past year now.

The information above just give some indications to the fact that she was indeed able to gather some relevant foreign policy experience over the last year and that she is able to be as outgoing as she can be diplomatic - let's see what else will be brought up.


SchelmWahnsinn said...

Very interesting. Thanks for researching and putting this together.

@parliamentary threats concerning Ashton: I think that's just sabre-rattling. They won't block her.

Slartibartfas said...

I am a bit worried about how the Council treats the demands of the Parliament of having an informed say on her appointment. The Parliament wants to conduct a hearing with her like every normal commissioner, that would need some time, but the Council wants her to get into office already on the 1st December. That could mean however that the Parliament is holding a hearing over someone who is already in office anyway.

There seems to be a fight about this between Council and Commission with the Parliament and I am worried that the latter could loose it. It would be a bad development for the European democracy.

PS: Some papers are reporting about it, but its unbelievable how scarce informations are. If such a power struggle would take place in one of the member states, the papers would be full of stories about it.

Julien Frisch said...

I've been writing about this 10 days ago:

Slartibartfas said...

Thanks for that link do your older post.

It seems the Council, Commission and the Parliament have agreed on a "compromise". There will be a sort of hearing on 2nd December or so and the Parliament may give a 2 month lasting consent. Ashton will be subject of the official hearing in January however as well and her post will be included in the vote over the Commission.

I am not sure if she will be in the position of the Commission Vice president at all until the Commission as a whole gets into office, it could be that she isn't.

Don't ask me what I think about this, I certainly don't like it, but it could have come worse I guess..

Julien Frisch said...

Well, if it is done with the consent of Parliament it is at least a better than against the its will.

It's still strange that she can be in the old Commission and shape the foreign service that she might be leading when she'll be in the new Commission.

I am not convinced legally, and I have doubts politically...