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Frederica Mogherini

Italy’s Foreign Minister Frederica Mogherini replaced Catherine Ashton as the EU’s head of foreign affairs while Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was named the new president of the European Council. The new appointments were announced at the EU Brussels summit 30 August 2014. Mogherini had many fans in the EU, including the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, initially in July 2014 the EU failed to get consensus on her as a candidate.

The Socialists, runners-up in the pan-European elections, ended up with two lesser positions - foreign policy chief and European Parliament president - while conservatives took the two top posts, running the EU executive that proposes and enforces community laws, and chairing the bloc's policymaking summits.

Rather than reach for the most talented statesmen and women - EU luminaries like France's Pascal Lamy, Italy's Mario Monti or Sweden's Carl Bildt - national leaders preferred to play safe by picking a trio of relatively low-profile figures unlikely to threaten their own dominance of European policy. None of the newcomers has the stature of a Jacques Delors, the greatest European Commission president, nor of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Her detractors said she was too young and inexperienced and too soft on Russia; she was also not favored by many east European states because of her softer approach to Putin. Tusk is a key ally of Angela Merkel and is regarded as a hawk on the Kremlin and its role in the Ukraine crisis. The foreign policy chief does not make EU policy. Individual member states, especially Germany, continue to play a leading role.

A veteran former EU official said he feared Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would “eat her for breakfast”. Some EU governments and many strategic analysts would have preferred Polish Foreign Minister Radislaw Sikorski, a strategic thinker and fine orator, to give EU foreign policy a stronger profile. But Berlin and Paris saw him as too provocative towards Russia - and in terms of the box-ticking, he suffered the dual handicap of being neither a socialist nor a woman. Outspoken Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite opposed Mogherini in July, saying she would not support a person who lacked experience and was “pro-Kremlin”. She made it known she had not voted for the Italian on Saturday.

Janis Emmanouilidis, chief political analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said “She is just too new in the business, being foreign minister for only a few months, not having a personal network of foreign policy contacts... Member states chose her and not others because they do not want someone who would create problems.”

Mogherini said soon after her appointment was confirmed that the EU will work on more sanctions against Russia while keeping the diplomatic route open. “As we think and we work on the level of sanctions, we also have to keep the diplomatic way open ... hoping that the combination, a wise combination, can be effective,” she told a news conference.

Federica Mogherini had been Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation since 21 February 2014. Born in Rome in 1973, she is married and has two daughters. She has a degree in Political Science. One of a group of young women in Renzi's cabinet, she was possibly the closest to the premier.

She was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 2008 and re-elected in 2013. She was a member, and Secretary, of Committee 4 on Defence and was a member of the Italian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of Committee 3 on Foreign Affairs. On 1 August 2013 she was elected Chair of the Italian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO. She also coordinated the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Development Cooperation.

She is a member of the Institute for Foreign Affairs (IAI), the Council for the United States and Italy and a fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She is a member of the Council of the European Leadership Network for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (ELN) and of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

In December 2013 she joined the National Secretariat of the Democratic Party with responsibility for Europe and International Affairs. She had already been a member of the Democratic Party’s Secretariat from 2007 to 2008 and again in 2009, with responsibility for Institutional Reform. Previously, in the Democrats of the Left Party, she was responsible for International Relations, with her remit focusing on relations with the Democrats in America, the Party of European Socialists (PES), the European Social Forum – Global Policy Forum, and peace movements.

In previous years she was a member of the Board of the European Youth Forum, Deputy Chair of the European Community Organisation of Socialist Youth (ECOSY), and a member of the Secretariat of the Youth Forum of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). As a member of the “Young Left”, her remit covered education and universities, and foreign affairs. As a volunteer with the Italian Recreational and Cultural Association (ARCI) in the 1990s, she followed the national and European campaigns against racism and xenophobia (the Council of Europe’s “All different, all equal” and “Nero e non solo!” campaigns).

Described by some as a "typical center-left politician of her generation," she moved from the radical left and campaigning against racism, xenophobia and apartheid in the 1990s to the mainstream today.

Mogherini stressed the importance of fully meeting all the provisions of the Minsk protocol on a ceasefire, including the full withdrawal of Russian troops, the establishment of effective control of the border, and support for the efforts of Poroshenko to restore peace. Mogherini expressed her conviction IN oCTOBER 2014 that at the moment Russia cannot be a partner of the EU, and Brussels must thoroughly review its relationship with Russia over the next five years. Mogherini has labeled the campaign announced by Moscow for the preservation and strengthening of the Russian sphere of influence “the biggest challenge to the cultural identity of the EU.” The new head of European diplomacy has called for the strengthening of the transatlantic relationship between the EU and the United States, which is “now more important than ever.”

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