Thursday, 5 May 2011

Hague versus Ashton

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has in a "landmark speech" eloquently defended his government´s emphasis on bilateral relations instead of relying on the EU´s External Action Service:

"UK champions own diplomacy over EU 'action service'

"I have never believed that the EU could or should act as if it were a nation state with a national foreign policy. Any attempt by EU institutions to do so would end in embarrassing failure," he said. "Over the last year we have placed a renewed emphasis on bilateral relations, alongside Britain's role in multilateral institutions."
The speech reflects traditional Conservative Party policy and Britain's eurosceptic culture. But it comes at a testing time for the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, a member of the Tories' rival Labour Party.
Ashton has over the past year tried to forge a single EU foreign policy on explosive issues such as the Middle East peace process and the Arab spring. But the UK and France have time and again taken the lead on big ticket items, leaving her to play catch-up.
In a bad day for the EU's high representative, Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere also on Wednesday told Belgian daily Le Soir that Ashton has left a vacuum at the centre of EU policy-making.
"If there is silence and this silence is 'occupied' by France, Germany etc., Belgium will search for partners in

Read the entire article here

Hague´s choice of words was probably welcomed by most people in the UK, but on the other hand, quite a few would probably like to remind him of some of his, and David Cameron´s  previous, not so euro-critical moves.  

And almost while Hague was speaking, his EU colleague, "foreign minister", Labour Baroness Cathrine Ashton was giving her own "victory speech" at the UN:

EU wins super-observer status at UN

The European Union on Tuesday secured super-observer status at the United Nations after overcoming objections from small states that they could see their influence eroded

A vote was passed by the 192-nation UN General Assembly after high-powered lobbying by EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton and ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc.

"What you will hear is a clearer voice to the United Nations from the European Union," but one that is "extremely and absolutely respectful" of the UN institutions

Read the entire article here

It certainly looks like Mr. Hague´s man in New York, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Ambassador of the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, also participated in the "high-powered lobbying" for making the EU "act as if it were a nation state".  

No surprise that this was what EU "president" "Haiku-Herman" Van Rompuy tweeted after the vote:

Herman Van Rompuy
Thanks to today's @ Resolution, the European Union achieves an important recognition as a global actor at the United Nations
I wonder, what, if anything, William Hague tweeted?

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