Foreign Office stands up to EU foreign policy chief

Baroness Cathy Ashton has asked for the largest EU budget hike. Photo:
Baroness Cathy Ashton has asked for the largest EU budget hike. Photo:

By staff

Foreign Office ministers are on the offensive against EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton's bid to win more influence.

Europe minister David Lidington is the latest to hit out against the European Commission's high representative for foreign affairs' manoeuvres to secure extra power for Brussels.

Baroness Ashton, a Labour peer, has requested a foreign policy budget of £427 million to increase the global reach of the EU.

"We see some evidence of EU delegations in particular parts of the world where they try to push for an enhanced leadership role," Mr Lidington was quoted by the Mail newspaper as saying.

"[Foreign secretary] William [Hague] has sent out instructions to all our posts around the world to be vigilant.

"It is things like an EU delegation assuming and asserting that it has the right to speak on behalf of member states.

"There is a pressure from some parts of the EU machine, and we are very keen to make sure it is pushed back and clear lines are drawn."

Baroness Ashton's European External Action Service requested the largest administrative budget increase this year, of 5.8%.

Britain had previously been among the countries fighting increases in EU spending, which will rise by 4.9% overall next year.


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