Catherine Ashton

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy 2009-14
Vice President of the European Commission 2009-14

 

 

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Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy 2009-14
Vice President of the European Commission 2009-14

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Catherine Ashton - Biographical Information

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy 2009-14,
Vice President of the European Commission 2009-14



Public career

Having worked in the private, voluntary and public sector Catherine Ashton began her parliamentary career in the House of Lords in 1990 as Baroness Ashton of Upholland, where she focused on education and human rights issues. She served as a junior education minister from 2001 to 2004, during which time she led the early-childhood-development initiative Sure Start.

In 2004 Catherine Ashton switched portfolios, becoming a junior minister in the Department of Constitutional Affairs and in 2006 was admitted to the Privy Council. The following year she served as a junior justice minister before being promoted to leader of the House of Lords by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In that role Catherine Ashton was responsible for the entire Government legislative programme in the Lords, most notably the passage of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty through the upper house. In October 2008 she became Trade Commissioner in the EU, the first woman British Commissioner and the first woman Trade Commissioner. 

With the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in November 2009, Catherine Ashton was appointed High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a post she held until 2014. During this time she created the European External Action Service - a new foreign policy service operating in 140 countries - and took responsibility for the EU military missions.

Catherine Ashton chaired the meetings of Foreign, Defence and Development Ministers across the EU and proved to be highly effective at representing the sometimes-competing goals of the EU’s 28 members.  Successes in office included brokering two years of talks between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo that concluded in 2013 with a historic agreement normalising relations between those countries, and leading the multiparty negotiations with Iran for four years, leading to the interim deal on the country’s nuclear programme which laid the foundations for the main deal.

Activity after Public Politics

Catherine Ashton has recently been appointed Chair of the Hammamet Conference Series, an international platform for dialogue and progress in relations between the UK and North Africa.

Catherine Ashton became a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation in 2016.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Chair of the Hammamet Conference
  • Chair of the John Smith Trust
  • Member of the European Leaders Network.
  • Member of the Advisory Board for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University
  • Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Yale
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow
  • Distinguished Practitioner at Blavatnik School of Government Oxford University