The Leaderboard: Federica Mogherini

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is she?

Federica Mogherini, 41, is the newly appointed high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission. A socialist Italian politician and political scientist, in February she became the youngest foreign minister in Italy’s history.

Mogherini rose through the ranks of the Democrats of the Left and the Italian Democratic Party before being elected to the national parliament in 2008. She served on the Defense Committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Italian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO.

Ms. Federica Mogherini of Italy. Source: European External Action Service's flickr phosotream, used under a creative commons license.

Ms. Federica Mogherini of Italy. Source: European External Action Service’s flickr phosotream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is she in the news?

The European Council on August 30 appointed Mogherini to replace the United Kingdom’s Catherine Ashton, effective November 1. As EU foreign policy chief, Mogherini’s focus will be Russia, Iran, and the Middle East. Her candidacy drew criticism from Eastern European countries that fear she will echo Italy’s conciliatory tone toward Moscow, but she has taken pains to insist that “Russia is not a strategic partner anymore” given its policy toward Ukraine.

What can we expect?

In addition to Russia, Mogherini will doubtlessly be preoccupied with the P5+1 negotiations with Iran (which she will inherit from Ashton) and instability in the Middle East in the coming months, but will still be expected to engage closely with Asia. The European Union is increasingly aware of the importance of the Asia Pacific, especially as economic ties with China, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the region have emerged as vital for the union.

Catherine Ashton has engaged with counterparts in Asia at an unprecedented level, including through the annual ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and in high-profile trips to China, Myanmar, Singapore, and other Asian states. Mogherini will now be expected to pick up that mantle, starting with the October 16-17 ASEM in Milan, which both Ashton and Mogherini will attend.


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