Monday

25th Jan 2021

US welcomes EU's new foreign policy powers

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has welcomed the upgrading of EU foreign policy under the Lisbon Treaty at a meeting with the union's recently-anointed foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton.

"These are historic times for the EU. I expect that in decades to come, we will look back on the Lisbon Treaty and the maturation of the EU that it represents as a major milestone in our world's history," Ms Clinton told press in Washington on Thursday (21 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Hilary Clinton: 'These are historic times for the EU' (Photo: state.gov)

"As the EU develops a more powerful and unified foreign policy voice in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty, our transatlantic partnership will continue to grow."

She declined to mention Ms Ashton's British nationality in the context of the US and UK's old "special relationship," amid concerns in some European capitals that Washington is increasingly keen to do business with Brussels rather than on a bilateral level.

Her remarks also stand in contrast to fears voiced in the European Parliament last year that the US tried to scupper Lisbon ratification because it does not want to compete with a stronger Europe on the international stage.

Ms Clinton and Ms Ashton indicated that the two powers stand side-by-side on future sanctions on Iran.

"Let me be clear: We will not be waited out and we will not back down. Iran has a very clear choice between continued isolation and living up to its international obligations," Ms Clinton said.

"Six years of dialogue by my predecessor Javier Solana has not brought us to the outcome that we would wish. And so we do have to consider what else needs to be done, and we stand ready to do that," Ms Ashton added.

The pair also agreed that more needs to be done to help people in the Haitian countryside following an initial focus on its earthquake-struck capital, Port-au-Prince.

"The most critical issue on our agenda today was the people of Haiti," Ms Ashton said.

The event was not widely covered in US media. But it saw Ms Clinton praise Ms Ashton's personal qualities and refer to her by her first name in a sign of friendship.

"I am grateful to have such a strong, thoughtful, accomplished partner in the efforts that confront us," she said, adding later that: "Cathy and I are statistics kinds of people."

The EU foreign minister's visit to the US capital follows criticism of her handling of the Haiti crisis in the European Parliament on Tuesday, where French and German MEPs said she should have gone to Port-au-Prince to improve the union's visibility as a donor.

The incoming French EU commissioner, Michel Barnier, on Wednesday attacked Ms Ashton on the same grounds, following a week of French grumbling that the US has taken a leading role in helping the one-time French colony.

Catherine Ashton became the EU's new foreign policy supremo on 1 December, the date of entry into life of the Lisbon accord. But she is currently juggling the creation of a new EU diplomatic corps in Brussels together with her international obligations.

"The whole thing is in statu nascendi. It's a bit chaotic for the time being," an EU diplomat said.

Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks

Street violence in Russia redoubled calls for new sanctions when foreign ministers meet on Monday, after eight EU states earlier proposed asset-freezes and visa-bans.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up

The EU is coaxing US president Joe Biden to open up to Cuba amid its worst economic crisis in decades, but foreign money risks feeding the regime's "feared" rule.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

Opinion

The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE

An internal power struggle has undermined the world's leading international security body since the summer. The OSCE is due to finally get new leaders in December but the unprecedented power vacuum has hit at a crunch time for hotspots worldwide.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us