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Catherine Ashton’s attendance record at European Commission meetings

January 7th, 2011

Letter sent to the Editor, The Telegraph, January 6th, 2011

Sir –

A new year but the same distortion in your story about Catherine Ashton’s attendance record at European Commission meetings.

An attendance record of more than 60% at Commission meetings is astonishing given that Catherine Ashton has done the jobs previously done by three people AND at the same time has negotiated and established the new External Action Service from scratch. She chairs meetings of EU foreign affairs ministers every month, attends the European Council, deals with Commission business and travels widely in her foreign policy role. Her attendance record is comparable to some current and former colleagues.

Catherine Ashton is well known as one of the hardest working people in Brussels. To take an average month, in September 2010 she began the month with a trip to China, chaired a meeting of the EU foreign ministers, participated in the European Council, and then went for a week of meetings at the UN General Assembly in New York, which included high level meetings on Sudan, Haiti, a Middle East Quartet meeting and countless bilateral and ministerial meetings. From there she went straight to Washington and finally ended the month in the Middle East. Every weekend that month was affected by work and travel, as many have been and will be subsequently . She is on call at all times.

Even when Catherine Ashton is not able to attend the European Commission’s weekly meeting, the process in Brussels ensures that her voice is heard and that her views are fully reflected in Commission decisions.

James Morrison
Head of Cabinet of Catherine Ashton

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