EU: s foreign minster performance so far – lacklustre and a pushover

As a complement to my previous post about EU, EEAS and Haiti here is some more on EEAS or the EU foreign service and the new foreign minister.

As I wrote in my post:

The New EU foreign minister – An undemocratic appointment to an undemocratic post created by an undemocratic treaty

“And the background of the new EU foreign minister (the High Representative for Foreign Affairs). Here main qualification seems to have been here lack of diplomatic experience. And that she is a Labour Baroness (she worked with business to abolish inequality), and has never held an elected office before. As the Gerald Warner so aptly point out: “this serial appointee is custom-made for high EU office”.

As Peter Ludlow, the European Strategy Forum, a Brussels think-tank put it: ”She would be a first rate disaster”.

Or as a French official said: ”She has little experience and is a bizarre choice”.

But they always complain don’t they.

And as Andrew Duff, a Liberal Democrat MEP, described her ”reassuringly dull.”

European people – You have been forewarned.”

Well it seems that the commission acted very quickly. As expected. And which they have prepared for even if they where not officially allowed to do that before the Lisbon Treaty went into force.

The commission also made a power grab, as expected, to even further strengthen it’s power over foreign policy. And of course “lady” Ashton was no match for them.

Well, she has lived up to all these “expectations”.

Ant the British are VERY Worried that EEAS is going to take over. Especially since the Britain’s Foreign Office is in financial and budget crisis and is scaling back representation abroad.

But the Swedish Foreign Office is NOT worried or concerned. We apparently have MUCH MORE INFLUENCE AND RESOURCES THAN THE BRITISH.

And the Germans are also worried. But don’t worry, be happy!

“The decision to give 54 of the European Commission’s 136 delegations full ambassadorial status was taken without any public announcement when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force three weeks ago. “

“Mats Persson, director of the Open Europe think tank, said the new EU embassies would, for ”all practical purposes”, take over the job of representing Britons on the world stage.

Common EU embassies means that Britain can be overruled on crucial diplomatic matters, such as on how to respond to human rights abuses in a conflict-ridden country,” he said.

“Mark Francois, the Conservative spokesman on Europe, said: ”It is crucial that these new EU delegations do not try to stray into the work of national embassies. The growth of the EU’s diplomatic representation presents a stark and regrettable contrast to the financial crisis facing Britain’s Foreign Office.”

“Geoffrey Van Orden, a Conservative MEP on the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, warned the commission was using the Lisbon Treaty and Lady Ashton’s dual role as a commissioner and foreign minister to undermine national sovereignty.

”The Eurocrats want to shift foreign policy away from the nation states to the commission. She is the instrument for this,” he said.

”Her whole thrust is in the direction of the commission. Her office is in the commission. It is providing the resources. Her power base is there. I would say to national governments – beware your foreign policy is at risk.”

“Many larger EU member states, including Britain and Germany, are concerned that José Manuel Barroso, the commission president, is plotting to keep national diplomats out of senior European diplomatic corps jobs.

Mr Barroso’s decision, late last year, to remove ”neighbourhood” affairs, EU foreign policy for neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and the Balkans, from Lady Ashton’s brief as commissioner was widely seen as a power grab. “

Ashton is not a strong figure politically and her weakness is allowing the commission to empire build – which was not the idea behind her post,” said one diplomat. “

“The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy was in Washington yesterday to meet with Hillary Clinton at the State Department, but she was barely a blip on the Beltway radar screen. Even the underwhelming David Miliband, hardly a household name on this side of the Atlantic, managed to significantly overshadow the visit of his EU counterpart when he delivered an exceedingly dull and unimaginative statement on the forthcoming London conference on Afghanistan before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

There was virtually no US press coverage at all of Catherine Ashton’s first trip to the United States as the EU foreign policy supremo, and she hardly set Foggy Bottom alight. Almost every major American news outlet ignored her presence in Washington, which is hardly surprising given that few reporters here would have any idea who she was.

Even her remarks at a joint press conference with the Secretary of State merited barely any attention, with the major press focus upon Clinton’s views on Haiti and Iran. Ashton’s comments were lacklustre and flat, betraying a striking dearth of foreign policy experience and knowledge. She also clearly lacks the presence, gravitas and charisma to be an international statesman, and bears all the hallmarks of a spectacularly unqualified apparatchik appointed way above her station as part of a cynical backroom deal between Europe’s big players.”

See also:

Den svenska utrikesförvaltningens död

See also my other post on the Lisbon Treaty:

EU – The inner game and the Corruption that Cost £684 931,5 per hour EVERY hour EVERY day EVERY year. And is increasing

EU – The aim of this treaty is to be unreadable and unclear AND it can not be understood by ordinary citizens

The EU Auditors have, for the 15th year in a row, refused to sign off the EU’s accounts owing to Fraud and Mismanagement in the budget

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/7045354/More-than-50-EU-embassies-open-across-the-world.html

More than 50 EU embassies open across the world

More than 50 European Union embassies have opened across the world since the Lisbon Treaty came into force three weeks ago.

By Bruno Waterfield

Published: 7:00AM GMT 22 Jan 2010

The move has led to fears that British consular facilities could be shut down as Brussels establishes itself as a world power.

Critics say the 54 new embassies in countries including Afghanistan, China, India and 33 African nations will shift power away from the British foreign office towards a new EU diplomatic service.

Embassies in the key capitals of Beijing, Kabul and Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union, are regarded as marking a major shift to giving the EU a role as a global player to rival nation states.

The embassies will takeover national bilateral missions in the 54 countries where they are set up, headed by ambassadors who are empowered to speak on behalf of the EU as a whole.

”They are going to be a bit more political,” a Brussels official told the EU observer website.

The decision to give 54 of the European Commission’s 136 delegations full ambassadorial status was taken without any public announcement when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force three weeks ago.

Twelve of the embassies are in Asia and the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. A network of 33 in Africa will cover countries ranging across the continent from Ghana to Kenya and South Africa to Zimbabwe. Eight of the new-model units are in Europe in Armenia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

A decisions over New York has been delayed amid a fierce political battle over the EU’s role in the United Nations Security Council.

Mats Persson, director of the Open Europe think tank, said the new EU embassies would, for ”all practical purposes”, take over the job of representing Britons on the world stage.

Common EU embassies means that Britain can be overruled on crucial diplomatic matters, such as on how to respond to human rights abuses in a conflict-ridden country,” he said.

In order for common embassies to work, EU member states must have shared national interests. This simply isn’t the case, particularly in Africa where the EU has consistently failed to act in a unified manner in the past.”

The Lisbon Treaty has created an embryonic diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service, under the control of an EU foreign minister, a post held by Baroness Ashton.

A text, agreed by European leaders, including Gordon Brown, last October gives the EU ”delegations” the objective of taking over consular work, a new role that could lead to British consulates being closed in remote countries to make cash savings.

EU delegations could gradually assume responsibility, where necessary, for tasks related to diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries, in crisis situations,” the text states.

Mark Francois, the Conservative spokesman on Europe, said: ”It is crucial that these new EU delegations do not try to stray into the work of national embassies. The growth of the EU’s diplomatic representation presents a stark and regrettable contrast to the financial crisis facing Britain’s Foreign Office.”

The Conservatives have accused the government of drafting plans to close overseas embassies and consulates as part of a wider programme of spending cuts.

An internal Foreign Office memorandum, leaked to the Tories, has urged diplomats to fire staff and close some overseas posts.

The Foreign Office has defended the new EU embassies.

”The EU’s foreign policy will become more consistent and effective, without costing the British taxpayer anymore because this is about redeploying existing resources,” said a British diplomat

”We are rightly proud of the consular service we offer to British and indeed EU nationals around the globe and there are currently no plans for the EU to take on that role.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/6968450/Ashton-has-lost-control-of-EU-foreign-policy.html

Baroness Ashton ‘has lost control of EU foreign policy’

Baroness Ashton’s political inexperience has allowed the European Commission to seize control of Europe’s foreign policy from national governments, MEPs and diplomats have warned.

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

Published: 6:24PM GMT 11 Jan 2010

During a hearing in the European Parliament on Monday, Lady Ashton faced repeated questions over who was really in charge of Europe’s foreign affairs and security policy.

The Labour life peer, who has never held elected public office or a post as a diplomat, has been instructed by national governments to set up a new diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service (EEAS), to carry out EU foreign policy independently of the commission.

As High Representative, or foreign minister, a post created under the Lisbon Treaty, Lady Ashton, 53, is also supposed to preserve the control of the Council of the EU, representing national governments, over foreign policy while also being a commission vice-president.

But since taking up her post on January 1, she has been criticised for failing to assert her own authority, for basing her office in the Brussels executive’s headquarters and for using commission officials as her key advisers.

Geoffrey Van Orden, a Conservative MEP on the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, warned the commission was using the Lisbon Treaty and Lady Ashton’s dual role as a commissioner and foreign minister to undermine national sovereignty.

”The Eurocrats want to shift foreign policy away from the nation states to the commission. She is the instrument for this,” he said.

”Her whole thrust is in the direction of the commission. Her office is in the commission. It is providing the resources. Her power base is there. I would say to national governments – beware your foreign policy is at risk.”

Following the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty at the end of last year, a turf war has broken out between commission officials and diplomats over control of the foreign minister and EEAS.

Many larger EU member states, including Britain and Germany, are concerned that José Manuel Barroso, the commission president, is plotting to keep national diplomats out of senior European diplomatic corps jobs.

Mr Barroso’s decision, late last year, to remove ”neighbourhood” affairs, EU foreign policy for neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and the Balkans, from Lady Ashton’s brief as commissioner was widely seen as a power grab.

Diplomats have also noted the growing influence over Lady Ashton of Joao Vale de Almeida, Commission director general for external relations, who was Mr Barroso’s closest and most senior adviser until last June.

Ashton is not a strong figure politically and her weakness is allowing the commission to empire build – which was not the idea behind her post,” said one diplomat.

During Monday’s confirmation hearing in front of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Lady Ashton denied that she allowing the commission to take control.

”It is not a land grab. It is collaboration,” she said.

MEPs will vote on the new commission, including Lady Ashton on Jan 26. Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP, said he was ”underwhelmed” by her performance. ”But I suspect that we will still support her,” he added.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100023314/the-eus-foreign-policy-chief-is-no-kissinger-baroness-ashton-proves-a-flop-in-washington/

Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.

The EU’s foreign policy chief is no Kissinger: Baroness Ashton proves a flop in Washington

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: January 22nd, 2010

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy was in Washington yesterday to meet with Hillary Clinton at the State Department, but she was barely a blip on the Beltway radar screen. Even the underwhelming David Miliband, hardly a household name on this side of the Atlantic, managed to significantly overshadow the visit of his EU counterpart when he delivered an exceedingly dull and unimaginative statement on the forthcoming London conference on Afghanistan before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

There was virtually no US press coverage at all of Catherine Ashton’s first trip to the United States as the EU foreign policy supremo, and she hardly set Foggy Bottom alight. Almost every major American news outlet ignored her presence in Washington, which is hardly surprising given that few reporters here would have any idea who she was.

Even her remarks at a joint press conference with the Secretary of State merited barely any attention, with the major press focus upon Clinton’s views on Haiti and Iran. Ashton’s comments were lacklustre and flat, betraying a striking dearth of foreign policy experience and knowledge. She also clearly lacks the presence, gravitas and charisma to be an international statesman, and bears all the hallmarks of a spectacularly unqualified apparatchik appointed way above her station as part of a cynical backroom deal between Europe’s big players.

The unaccountable mandarins of Brussels may like to see themselves as the gilded guardians of a rising superpower, but in reality the international voice of the European Union is still nowhere near as powerful as that of individual European nation states, and that is how it should stay. I was relieved therefore that the EU was not represented by a far more formidable figure with considerable weight and popularity in America, like Tony Blair. Had the former Prime Minister swanned into town as the president of the European Union, there would have been a bank of television cameras awaiting his presence, and his views would have been widely reported.

As I wrote at the time of her completely ridiculous appointment, Ashton’s ascent to power in Brussels will, temporarily, help rein in European ambitions to be a major actor on the world stage:

Anything that undermines the Lisbon vision of the EU as a powerful supranational force is a good thing, and the appointments of both Baroness Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy will do that in spades. Better a weak non-entity as foreign minister or president than a powerhouse Henry Kissinger at the helm if the nefarious European Project is to be defeated.

Baroness Ashton’s pitiful lack of impact in her first foray in America demonstrated that the EU is currently an emperor with no clothes, lacking the power to be a global political force. But, there is no room for complacency among those of us who believe in the sanctity of the nation state, and are opposed to the rise of a federal Europe.

The fundamentally undemocratic Treaty of Lisbon will dramatically erode sovereignty in Europe, and over the next few years it will significantly drive a European foreign policy and defence identity. As the euobserver has just reported, the EU has already “converted 54 out of the European Commission’s 136 foreign delegations into embassy-type missions authorised to speak for the entire union” in preparation for the creation of a new EU diplomatic corps.

There is also rising support in the White House and State Department for the European Union’s grand ambitions, an extraordinarily foolish approach for a US administration to take, but not out of character for the Obama admininistration. As Hillary Clinton made it amply clear in her press conference, Washington is now an unequivocal backer of ever-closer union in Europe. As she put it yesterday, speaking alongside Baroness Ashton, “I expect that in decades to come, we will look back on the Lisbon Treaty and the maturation of the EU that it represents as a major milestone in our world’s history, and not just in Europe and not just in the Euro-Atlantic community.”

There is a very real danger that over the next decade, Washington will increasingly do business directly with the EU, at the expense of individual European capitals. This would be a grave mistake on the part of the United States, and would result in a significant weakening, rather than strengthening, of the transatlantic alliance, as well as the further decline of the Anglo-American Special Relationship.

The next British government must firmly oppose and do all in its power to fight the rise of a European foreign and defence policy, and ensure that vital matters of national interest are decided in London and not Brussels. It must also send a clear message to Washington that American support for a federal European superstate will only serve to undermine the Anglo-American alliance.

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9 svar to “EU: s foreign minster performance so far – lacklustre and a pushover”

  1. Swan Lake Says:

    Sophia Albertina,

    Thank you for your references and your opinion. I share much of what has been said about Ashton, the Lisbon Treaty and all undemocratic steps etc that have been taken but it could all be accepted if the result seems to go in the right direction for EU and Europe. I do not see that thou.

    What has happened became evident in Copenhagen. EU as a collective group could not perform with strength and not even speak with one voice. The Americans were weak and afraid of creating a conflict. China and the other BRIC countries took the initiative and the result is known.The US and Europe lost the grip on the situation. The world know faces a complete new world security situation. What has been seen in this and other matters is a shift in Europe’s weight in foreign policy and international security as the world affairs are now dealt with by the United States and China with India coming up.

    With representatives like Ashton et consortes Europe is now fast accelerating to and soon being degraded to a position more of an on-looker in important world affairs and world politics than an equal actor. The importance of Europe now gradually diminish. Historically this is a complete new era for Europe. A real turning point. Today even Israel plays a more important roll in world affairs than EU and Europe. Who listens to EU?

    With a mediocre EU-leadership Europe could no longer ask the world what it could do for others. EU has no substance. Therefore nobody listens anymore, that’s the reality, even if all member states of self respect still say something ells. Now there is an unprecedented shift of power negotiated without EU between the United States, China and the other BRIC countries together with to some extent countries like Russia and Israel. Europe’s old power in world affairs are over, in my opinion. The Copenhagen meeting showed who are the future world leaders to be. Even the United States has to take care of it’s interest in a more decisive way than has been shown in Copenhagen overplayed as it was especially by China..

    Where the Muslim countries and Islam will come in to the picture of world affairs is another matter. Perhaps one of our time’s most important question?

    EU in all circumstances seems to weak to play any significant important roll outside Europe any more. EU will be led by a foreign policy with the final signature of Ashton (but even more unfortunate with a finger also of Barosso) who will have a staff of so called diplomats, 6 – 7 000, i.e. eurocrats, that with the present EU leadership will only be able to talk and talk in all major cities of the world outside EU. All in academical finesse of course but in vain of making a difference. Sorry to say.

    Had for example the world had to deal with the known and tough Blair instead of Ahston place there might have been a vague chance of the European star shine for at least perhaps another few years. In hope that EU could have polled it’s business together.

    EU has now in my opinion to concentrate on making life better och and more democratic and secure for it’s citizens.EU is needed but will not play the important part in World affairs as Europe has done for more than a thousand years.

    We all know how the beautiful Swan Lake ends.

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