EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about Catherine Ashton’s deputies was published by EurActiv on 15th March 2010.

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s recently-appointed foreign policy chief, will be able to trim her busy work schedule and counter criticism of her lack of visibility thanks to the assistance of three EU commissioners, who will act as her deputies.

Štefan Füle, the Czech commissioner for enlargement, Andris Piebalgs, his Latvian colleague responsible for development, and Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian commissioner for humanitarian aid, will all assist Ashton, a Commission official said.

Catherine Ashton has endured attacks from several quarters, including French ministers, for not flying the EU flag at hotspots such as earthquake-hit Haiti or being unable to attend European gatherings.

But Commission representatives said the situation was going to change, as the EU’s first-ever High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, who is also commissioner for external relations, will now be able to use colleagues as deputies.

“I wish we had dealt with the issue of deputies at the intergovernmental conference [laying the ground for the Lisbon Treaty], but here we are,” said one Commission official, who asked not to be named.

“In a European Union of 27 countries, she – or anybody else – will always be attacked for being here and not somewhere else,” a diplomat told EurActiv.

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