Thursday

22nd Feb 2024

Rome continues to push Italian FM to replace Ashton

  • Mogherini has 20 years of experience in foreign policy issues, Rome says (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Rome is continuing to push Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini to be the next EU foreign policy chief, despite opposition based on her experience and her country's perceived pro-Russia stance.

Asked whether Mogherini was still in the running, Europe affairs minister Sandro Gozi said on Wednesday (23 July): "Yes, of course [her candidacy] is on the table."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

"We do believe that Federica Mogherini has all the qualities to be a good high representative [for EU foreign relations]. I personally never understood the criticism on her supposed lack of experience."

"She is somebody who has been following and working in foreign policy for 20 years."

Speaking after a meeting of Europe ministers in Brussels, Gozi added that blocking Mogherini would also be contrary to the EU's supposed intention to start afresh after the EU vote in May illustrated that many citizens wanted to change how the EU does its business.

He argued it would be "difficult" to have a new start only with "very experienced male politicians", alluding to the fact that her appointment would help with the EU's gender-balance goals.

The EU foreign policy chief is simultaneously a vice-president of the European Commission, whose team of 28 commissioners needs to contain at least nine women - a political goal demanded by the European Parliament.

"These are all good points that push to confirm her candidacy. We have never hesitated on this even in the last days," said Gozi.

Mogherini emerged as a name for the foreign policy post, currently held by Catherine Ashton, when the centre-left demanded that the job go to a Socialist after the centre-right Jean-Claude Juncker scooped the European Commission presidency.

Since then, Italian PM Matteo Renzi has put much political capital into her replacing Ashton.

The Russia question

However, Mogherini's bid ran into opposition from some eastern countries, particularly Lithuania, who perceive Italy as being too pro-Russia.

The division meant that a summit of EU leaders earlier this month saw no decision on either that post or the President of the European Council.

And since that summit, member states' attitudes across the EU have hardened towards Moscow following the shooting down on 17 July of the Malaysia Airlines flight, allegedly by Russia-backed separatist rebels.

Meanwhile, others are looking for the jobs themselves, including Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski, who played a strong role as the Ukraine crisis started to develop last year.

On Tuesday in Brussels, he noted that his political group, the centre- right EPP, believes that "in these ever more difficult times for Europe in terms of events in its neighbourhood, Europe needs a strong leadership, which also reflects geographic balance."

Both of the EU top posts are due to be decided at a summit in Brussels on 30 August, after which the full commissioner team and their portfolios will become clear too.

EU administrative commissioner Maros Sefcovic said that despite the delay in agreeing the two top posts, the process is "still well on schedule".

The European Parliament is to grill all the commissioner nominees - including the EU foreign policy chief - in the third and fourth weeks of September, while the new commission as a whole is due to be sworn in at the beginning of November.

Analysis

From Solana to Mogherini: What did Ashton really do?

Ashton's defenders say she created Europe's foreign service and clinched the Iran and Kosovo-Serbia accords. But in fact she played a minor role in all three, posing the question: How should we remember the EU's first foreign policy chief?

Opinion

EU top jobs: of dwarfs and giants

The decision will be taken this week: Who will be the successor to Catherine Ashton, the quasi foreign minister of the EU?

Opposition to Mogherini fading in EU capital

A deal is shaping up for Italian foreign minister Mogherini to become the EU's next foreign affairs chief, provided the PM of Poland or a Baltic leader takes up the EU Council presidency.

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. EU auditors: rule-of-law budget protections only partial success
  2. EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain
  3. Von der Leyen rejects extremist parties, leaves door open to ECR
  4. Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist
  5. Podcast: Navalny, Ian Bremmer and "more Europe"
  6. Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza
  7. Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?
  8. African leaders unveil continent-wide plan to buy medicines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us