IT'S remarkable how soon the British press drops interest in a subject once it is has lost its headline appeal. It's only about a month ago that the issue of who would get the two new top jobs in Europe was in most of the papers but that was when the names of Tony Blair and David Miliband were in the frame. After the jobs went instead to the Belgian Hermann Rompuy and the “unknown” British Baroness Catherine Ashton the subject was closed.

On Monday Ashton was the first of the 26 new EU commissioners to face an interrogation from members of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. I could not find any report of her appearance in the British press and so had to get my information elsewhere. Apparently she did well in answering some sixty questions during a three hour session.

The most trouble for her came from British right wing MEPs who brought a touch of House of Commons Question Time atmosphere to Strasbourg with baying and heckling over Ashton's support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in days gone by. She stoutly replied that she had never hidden her association with CND and was not ashamed of it. For the rest, she was tough on Iran, reserved on Israel and cautious on Russia, saying that a strategic policy was necessary towards Moscow and that issues such as oil and gas supplies should be treated on an economic rather than a political basis.


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