EAS: officially launched but the tussle continues

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

EU’s External Action Service: options remain open

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

Quiet start from EU High Rep Ashton? Good! Go for the long game

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

Copenhagen: Recovering from the hangover

Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.

Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.

Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading

Climate agreement in Copenhagen? Prospects dimming rapidly

September’s UN Climate change summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appears not to have succeeded. It was a good try and could have worked if national leaders had stepped up to accept the challenge. But most of them haven’t. The regular conferencing to prepare the Copenhagen summit in December has resumed in Bangkok and the acrimony is at an unprecedented level. Continue reading

Climate change and the complex complications of the Copenhagen COP

The Copenhagen climate conference in December is crucial for the future well being of the vast majority of humanity alive today and the billions yet to be born.  Its prospects are not good, however, and it is beset by multi-layered complexities. There needs to be much more political energy going into it now in order to achieve anything that can be politely called success in three months time.  Continue reading