Blog AnalysisEEAS High Representative

Finally !

Screenshot 2014-10-09 11.27.42(BRUXELLES2) Our attentive readers will have been able to glimpse, since the beginning of the week on the site of B2, a clock ticking off the days, hours and minutes… (1) This period separates us from the departure of Catherine Ashton (and also José-Manuel Barroso). To say that we will miss the Baroness would be a lie. It's not that she was unsympathetic a priori. On a personal level, the rare times I had the opportunity to meet her, courtesy was the rule. And the Briton didn't miss everything contrary to what some would say. But it wasted a lot of will and energy. It caused Europe to waste precious time at a key moment when it is facing many challenges at its borders. So many missed opportunities! In this sense, it did not deviate from the vision of the Cameron government, aiming to prevent any strengthening of Europe.

Repeated absences

Lady Ashton has also taken very little interest in questions of defense and security, repeatedly ignoring Defense Ministers, which is rather unworthy of her role as High Representative (2). She also did not really exercise her role as vice-president of the Commission, leaving unresolved certain administrative, financial problems, and even respect for the rules of labor law, which ruined the lives of the heads of mission of the Commission. PSDC.

Forgotten geographical issues

It largely ignored the African problem, focusing on a few areas, starting with Asia. The Ukrainian crisis will undoubtedly constitute one of the defeats of European preventive diplomacy. By pushing the desire for an Eastern partnership with Ukraine to the maximum, by not disciplining a die-hard commissioner, Stefan Füle, by not foreseeing the Russian reaction (quite predictable for those who know a little about the Kremlin system ), she helped light the fire in kyiv…

The public voice

Finally, she has continued to despise and ignore the essential relay that constitutes the media, not only refusing interviews, but unprofessionally dismissing press conferences. The interviews she gave were rare (B2 had the opportunity to do only one, at the start of her mandate). And it’s not for lack of asking for it later. The press conferences were held at a slingshot (12-16 minutes maximum, with reading of a piece of paper and answer to three questions, no more). To my knowledge, she has never “gone down” to the press room in the face of a “hot” problem on the planet. And yet, there have been some in five years! Giving voice and meaning to European policy requires expressing oneself publicly, coming to explain it, detailing it in front of citizens. Diplomacy is not only secret meetings and embassy notes, ministerial meetings, it is also public expression. This (not insignificant) part of its mission has been largely neglected.

So we say to Lady Ashton... Farewell and above all, don't come back!

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. The entry into office of the Juncker Commission could be postponed beyond November 1, the date on which this clock is set. It will probably be necessary to extend the remaining deadline accordingly.
  2. An absence or two can be excusable, an almost systematic absence would be worth exclusion from any collective establishment.

Read some articles published on the Lady:

Consult the section High Representative or the keyword Catherine Ashton

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).