I saw Cathy Ashton perform live for the first time over the weekend. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Partly, this was because my expectations were so low. Ever since she was appointed as the new EU foreign-policy supremo, back in November, Ashton’s publicity has been relentlessly negative. Commentators (including me, I must admit) dismissed her as hopelessly unqualified for the job. Friends of mine in Brussels had told me that her performances in private sessions were hesitant and unimpressive.
So I was eagerly expecting a bit of a train-wreck when Ashton took to the stage for a public discussion of Transatlantic Relations at the German Marshall Fund’s annual Brussels forum. But, in fact, Ashton did fine. She was fluent, articulate, poised. She had to talk about a range of issues from arms control to Georgia to missile defence, and there was no moment where I thought – “Oh my God, she’s out of her depth. ” True, she said nothing that was interesting or memorable. But, I’m afraid, that just shows she is doing her job well. Read more