Backgrounder: Key facts about EU new foreign chief

10:43, November 20, 2009      

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EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton from Britain was chosen as EU foreign chief at a special summit held in Brussels Thursday night.

Ashton was born on March 20, 1956 in Upholland in Lancashire, from where she takes her title, Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

From 1983-89 she was Director of Business in the Community, and established the Employers' Forum on Disability, Opportunity Now, and the Windsor Fellowship.

She chaired the Health Authority in Hertfordshire from 1998 to 2001, and became a Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families.

In 1999, she became a life peer. She was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills in 2001, and then Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and subsequently Ministry of Justice with responsibilities for human rights, freedom of information and equalities. She became a Privy Councilor in May 2006.

She was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council in Gordon Brown's first Cabinet in June 2007. As well as Leader of the Lords, she took responsibility in the House of Lords for equalities issues.

In October, 2008, she was nominated to replace Peter Mandelson as the Britain's European Commissioner in Brussels, and was approved by the European Parliament.

Source: Xinhua
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