Open Europe Blog

An interesting op-ed in Le Monde from Bastien Nivet of the Paris-based IRIS think-tank notes,

“A new notion is beginning to dominate the debate on the international action of the European Union: the Ashtonisation of the EU. Inspired by the surname of [EU Foreign Minister] Catherine Ashton, this notion describes a skillful mix of lack of anticipation, reactivity and diplomatic coherence, of absence of strategic ambitions and leadership by the EU, and of the abandonment of a timid europeanisation of stakes in foreign, security and defence policy to the benefit of the re-appropriation of this process by some member states.”

This is certainly an unfortunate neologism, but, as Nivet points out, this “Ashtonisation” is also a result of member states realising that the EU architecture is too unwieldy:

“Paris is about to succeed in the incredible challenge of reducing the ambitions and the interests of the European Security and Defence Policy at a pace and with an effectiveness that not even the most eurosceptic Britons would have dreamed of…Paris now seems to have come to a decision: what is ambitious will be done with the Britons outside of the EU framework, what is not will be done with them as well, within the EU framework.”

Monsieur Nivet concludes his piece with a warning: a number of factors are combining to make the EU an “Ashtonised actor, which doesn’t keep up with the global strategic changes under way.”


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