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Vol 50 No 24

Published 4th December 2009

The East takes on the South

The new team of Eurocrats has little experience of Africa and may be surprised by what it finds

A new European Commission was named on 17 November and most of its members who will deal with African affairs are from countries with no ties to the continent. The Commission President is still Portugal's José Manuel Durão Barroso, while the sometimes criticised Javier Solana is replaced as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security by Britain's little known Catherine Ashton, whose foreign policy experience consists mainly of a year as Trade Commissioner. Most Africa-related posts have gone to commissioners from eastern Europe. Optimists claim Barroso wants to introduce them to responsibilities beyond Europe. Pessimists say the ex-colonisers - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - have lost interest in their African links and did not want the jobs.

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