The absurdity of appointing a never-elected, inexperienced, politically correct bureaucrat as the EU’s first foreign minister is slowly coming back to haunt Brussels. With less than 100 days in office, Catherine Ashton has fluctuated between Brussels’ laughing stock and its resident scapegoat. Criticized by even the most ardent of EU supranationalists, it has emerged that Baroness Ashton has received a letter from the UK Foreign Minister with some rather pointed advice for the world’s highest paid female politician.
Instead of knuckling down and getting on with her highly-paid job, Baroness Ashton has astonished even the greediest of Brussels’ bureaucrats by claiming she is being held back by not having her own airplane. Apparently, the Spanish EU Presidency thinks that Baroness Ashton should not have to share a plane with the French Foreign Minister, with whom she flew to an EU conference last week. She deserves her own Air Force I to compete with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Other EU elites are claiming that the European Commission is holding Baroness Ashton back by unfairly hanging on to resources and responsibilities in trade, aid and development. However, the Lisbon Treaty left the division of foreign policymaking responsibilities ill-defined among its actors, which now include five people who call themselves “President” within the EU’s institutions. It was entirely predictable that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso would attempt to control EU foreign policy by stealth.
It took eight years of tortuous negotiations, bullying and cajoling for the EU to formally pass the Lisbon Treaty which created the new EU foreign minister’s post. But it has taken just three months to unravel. And while completely out of her depth, Baroness Ashton is not solely to blame. The Lisbon Treaty has created several additional layers of EU bureaucracy to one of the world’s least efficient organizations, and added a twenty eighth European foreign minister for Washington to deal with. Rather than bring anything more to the table, the Lisbon Treaty has just created more headaches for the world to come to terms with and Baroness Ashton is just one of many.