The new European Trade Commissioner has been meeting colleagues in Brussels. Catherine Ashton was nominated by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown last Friday, following news that Peter Mandelson was leaving the post to rejoin the cabinet in London.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland was given a life-peerage under the previous Labour PM Tony Blair. In Britain, she held several middle-ranking ministerial posts before guiding the Lisbon Treaty through the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords. Her nomination was backed by the Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Her predecessor had been EU Trade Commissioner for almost four years.
Mandelson’s return to the centre of British power raised several eyebrows. He has his fair share of detractors in the Labour party, and he had already resigned from government twice amid allegations of improper behaviour – claims he denied