Saturday, 9 October 2010
No British Voice in Crucial EU Meetings
No, this post isn't a caption competition. I want to highlight the behaviour of the Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, who is the most highly paid female politician in the world. She is also the European Commission vice-president representing Britain.
This week there was a crucial meeting in Brussels which debated the fate of the rebate and controversial plans to introduce European taxes. Lady Ashton was missing. She decided instead to attend a regional anti-piracy meeting at the Grand Baie in Mauritius instead.
Her absence meant that no one raised any objections to plans by Europe's budget commissioner to include proposals to end the rebate in the EU budget review which will go before politicians later this month. She also missed a meeting about this subject last month and it means that she has failed to attend any of the Commission's meeting on an issue that has been identified as a crucial 'red line' for the Westminster government. Both times her commission seat was filled by James Morrison, her British chief of staff, but he was not allowed to speak and could only observe proceedings. It means that Britain's opposition has gone unrepresented.
If the rebate is scrapped, as the commission propose, the potential extra cost for the Treasury is £6 billion in the 2010 to 2015 period covered by the Government's controversial five-year spending review and austerity programme which George Osborne will reveal on 20 October.
What is David Cameron doing about this lack of British representation? Nothing. He seems quite happy to give this woman free reign. Or could it be he wishes to give her enough rope to hang herself? She's not getting all her own way in Europe though because the European Parliament has blocked allocation of nearly €20 million for staffing the new European External Action Service, (EEAS), Lady Ashton's current pet project.
Could Westminster's lack of comment be due to the fact that a backroom deal has been done to oust Lady Ashton and replace her with David Miliband? Just a thought.
Somehow I think this blogger is furious at this development as she seldom resorts to expletives.