Catherine Ashton played a critical role in all the major diplomatic challenges of her time in office (2009-2014): as the first EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission she set up the European External Action Service, negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, as well as dealing with the Arab Spring and the Ukraine crisis. She was particularly active in the Western Balkans including facilitating the Serbia – Kosovo dialogue. At a special curtain-raising event to the EBRD Annual Meeting, held in the late afternoon of 7 May, she will be in conversation with Jonathan Charles, EBRD Managing Director for Communications, reflecting on the past, present and future challenges of the region and what outsiders can do to help.
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Baroness Catherine Ashton
Baroness Catherine Ashton is a Life Peer in the UK’s House of Lords. She previously held a variety of roles: Director for Business in the Community, the Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families, a minister in the Department for Education and Skills, and worked in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. In 2007 she was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen's Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet.
In 2008 Baroness Ashton was appointed the first woman British European Commissioner and became the first woman Commissioner for Trade. In 2009 she became the EU’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Managing Director, Communications, EBRD
Mr. Charles came to the Bank in 2011 after a long and distinguished career at the BBC, winning several awards for his journalism. As a BBC presenter and foreign correspondent, he has appeared on BBC1 and BBC World News television, as well as the BBC’s main radio channels.
His specialist areas include economics, Russia, the EU and international diplomacy; he has a keen interest in issues surrounding the single currency. He established television operations for the BBC in Brussels and Frankfurt, and operated in many conflict zones throughout the world. He holds an MA (Oxon) and BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oriel College, Oxford University.