Tuesday 12 January 2010

Hearing Ashton - my own remarks

It's always nice to listen to the opinions of others, but I still prefer unfiltered data over others' summaries.

After having followed the Ashton hearing through Twitter and blogs yesterday - see the list of quotes I assembled - I took the time in the evening to listen to her performance for 1h45 and I found her quite convincing.

Yes, her answers were largely diplomatic. Yes, you could feel that she is still inexperienced in that international affairs business. Yes, she didn't know all the files and all the details.

But the way she answered showed that she has invested herself in getting into the job as deeply as possible within the few weeks she had. She has visibly developed her opinions - sometimes hidden behind diplomatic speech - on several issues, she defended her future Commission colleagues by making clear how she sees the division of tasks, e.g. regarding Neighbourhood Policy or Development.

She could tell numbers of policemen in EU missions and cite from international documents. She answered most of the questions in a manner that took those who asked seriously - as seriously as you can take MEPs who don't understand the concept of asking one question in one minute.

Interestingly to note is that she spoke of Clinton as if they would get along quite well.

And between the lines you could well read that she wants to change things and that she sees problems she would like to tackle, for instance when she said that the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Mediterranean Union are not really part of one cohesive strategy (hope I recall that correctly).

I don't know exactly why, but the way she was addressing the different questions, both in content and in style, sounded positively different - I think its good to have someone like her in that position.

So despite the fact that not much news and substance came out of the hearing, Ashton still was able to convince me and I am now looking forward how she will be able to translate words into work.


rose22joh said...

Hi Julien, I think that's a fair summary.
National politicians rarely enter a post with a full background on the issues they'll encounter (oddly in the UK at national level no one seems to think they ought to either!) but the willingness to learn, and frankly the ability to appoint a very good Cabinet team (and gain a good resource in RELEX) will be as important.
The organisational skills of running an NHS Trust (much diplomacy, use of scant resource spread thinly over a wide and growing set of needs etc.) may well be of more use when trying to set up the external action service in any case...