The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent. Continue reading
EU High Representative and EC Vice-President Catherine Ashton steps down from leading the European External Action Service in late 2014. She has presented her review of the organisation and how to make it more efficient. But despite her best efforts the basic case for the EEAS remains unclear to many. Winning that case depends not on efficiency alone but on whether the EEAS meets an important need. Continue reading
Today, Monday 10 December, in Oslo City Hall and then in the banqueting rooms of the Grand Hotel in the evening, the European Union receives and celebrates the Nobel Peace Prize 2012.
Now it is clear that Hosni Mubarak’s three decade presidency of Egypt cannot survive much longer, outside powers are visibly positioning themselves for the next phase. Hubristic temptations are clear but not everybody’s falling for them. Continue reading
The EU’s new External Action Service was officially launched on 1 December as High Representative Catherine Ashton addressed a meeting of EU ambassadors. But the tussle over whether it will include key peacebuilding staff from the Commission continues (see my post of 22 Nov). The Commission’s position hasn’t changed and neither has the Parliament’s. Continue reading
The air in Brussels is thick with a storm over the European External Action Service, basically caused by the European Commission trying to break its word. Continue reading
This past week the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton presented “her” proposal for the new European External Action Service (quotation marks on “her” because, of course, it is not hers alone – even in draft it is already a compromise). So far she has not won all her battles but nor has she lost them. In fact, those battles are not over. All options are open still and those of us who want a genuine Action service need to keep our sleeves rolled up and engage in the arguments ahead. Continue reading
Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative, is facing a mountain of a job and a rockfall of criticism across Europe after her first 100 days. But most of the negativity is a matter of Brussels gossip, bruised little egos and out-dated thinking about international politics. Ashton has got things more right than her critics. Rightly, she is focused on the long game rather than short-term headlines (which some journalists find impossible to forgive and others equally impossible to understand). Continue reading