[Catherine ] Ashton, ...Europe's foreign minister, was yesterday accused of political "weakness" as she was blamed for an impasse that will significantly delay the creation of a new EU diplomatic corps.
Catherine Ashton blamed for political 'weakness' delay to EU diplomatic corps
The service [called the External Action Service (EEAS)], under her leadership, was supposed to have been established by next month but sources say that infighting between the EU institutions means it will now be summer before it is ready.
...A key obstacle is who will be responsible for the appointment of heads of delegations and staff to the EU's 136 overseas missions ...European Commission... [or] Ashton...
A meeting last Thursday between Lady Ashton and Jose Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, failed to resolve outstanding issues surrounding the corps. The stand-off has triggered further verbal attacks on ...Ashton, who was plucked from relatively obscurity to lead the EU, and has faced a stream of criticism since taking up her new post on 1 January.
As the High Representative, a job created by the Lisbon Treaty, she had a 20-strong staff, chauffeured car and earns more than Gordon Brown, with an annual salary of £325,000 and generous allowances.
However, with the Commission saying that it should continue to manage the delegations, the tug-of-war over key nominations is set to intensify over coming weeks.
Martin Callanan, a Tory MEP, said, "Barroso recently appointed a former aide to become EU ambassador in Washington without even consulting her. She [has] clearly become something of an easy pushover ...This is down to her weakness and lack of political skills that now threatens to delay the creation of this new service. She doesn't command respect and the penny is starting to drop in Europe that in Baroness Ashton it's gone a dud."
...Ashton has come under fire on several other fronts, including her failure to rush to Haiti after the devastating earthquake on 12 January. She was also slammed for failing to turn up in Mallorca last month for a meeting of EU defence ministers and NATO top brass.
Lady Ashton was last week sent a letter by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary and one-time favourite to do her job, who voiced concern about infighting between EU institutions ...