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Tuesday, 21 October 2008


A very warm welcome to Cathy Ashton who was confirmed as Commissioner by the Trade Committee yesterday evening, subject to a vote in the European Parliament plenary session today.

It's very good to have Cathy on board, though no thanks are due to the British Tories who have consistently undermined her. It has recently become clear that the Tories worked within their own political group, the centre right EPP-ED, to stop Cathy Ashton being confirmed as Commissioner. Apparently the decision to support Baroness Ashton in the EPP Group on the Trade Committee prior to the hearing was won by only one vote. My source tells me that Martin Schulz, Leader of the Socialist Group, threatened Joseph Daul, EPP Leader, with outright war if his Group voted against Baroness Ashton.

Cathy performed well at the Committee meeting, as we knew she would, being competent, self assured and, contrary to Tory propaganda, knowledgeable about her subject. You may have read Daniel Hannan's vitriolic blog in the "Daily Telegraph". Perhaps it was only to be expected, though you may have thought that those who claim to be so patriotic and keen to maintain British sovereignty would support a British Commission nominee.

It is a very good to have another woman Commissioner and for that woman to be British. Despite a larger proportion of female MEPs than MPs in Westminster (33 percent compared to fewer than 20 percent) women are severely under represented in the EU institutions. Angela Merkel is the only female head of state while there are no women heading up a Commission Department (D-G).

Yet you cannot help thinking that a male Commissioner nominee would not have faced the allegations of inexperience and not being up to the job that Cathy Ashton has so roundly seen off. All in all we still have a long way to go.

1 comment:

Jonathan Millins said...

Merkel isn't the German head of state, she is the head of government. President Horst Köhler is head of state.