Friday, 29 January 2010

Britain’s High Representative is letting Europe down badly

Not exactly an accurate headline from The Times, she is the EU's representative, but the sentiment is correct as the article says.

It would seem that the Labour peer spends more time on the Eurostar commuting home to London than in her office, where nobody answers the phone after 8pm.

Too bad when the caller is Hillary Clinton saying that she’s on her way to Haiti. Was Catherine en route? No. On Friday January 15, she had cancelled all appointments to go home earlier. JosĂ© Manuel Barroso had to send Karel De Gucht, the Development Commissioner.

A few days later, Lady Ashton tried to defend herself. Her arguments fell decidedly flat: “I’m neither a doctor nor a fireman.” Indeed, but surely she must know that diplomacy at this level implies symbolic gestures and fast action. The EU has committed four times more in aid to Haiti than the US, so it would have been logical, if not crucial for Europe’s image that its Foreign Affairs Minister stood alongside the Secretary of State.