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The EU's foreign policy boss Cathy Ashton not attending a meeting of EU defence ministers

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The EU's foreign policy boss Cathy Ashton not attending a meeting of EU defence ministers

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The EU’s foreign policy boss Cathy Ashton has again been raising eyebrows in Brussels, jetting off to Moscow and Kiev for Viktor Yanukovic’s swearing in, and not attending a meeting of EU defence ministers in Majorca.

Some regrets at her absence were made public, but then hosts Spain insisted Ashton’s absence was justified. Others were less happy, with Italy’s Gabriele Albertini upset at her choice of Afghan representative;

“For Afghanistan the person chosen has no experience of the country, but they do have the trust of the British and Americans.”

Ashton’s entry into high-level EU politics has been controversial, but others prefer to take a wait and see approach rather than join in the chorus of disapproval;

“We are in a transition phase, and in a phase like this we have to give her every chance to adapt to her role. The criticisms only show that much is expected of her.”

Some have detected a change in priorities since Ashton’s arrival, and wonder if she will embody Britain’s lack of enthusiasm for a common European defence policy which the Lisbon treaty, now in force, tries to establish.