PROFILE: Baroness Catherine Ashton: Britain's new face at EU
Oct 3, 2008, 17:57 GMT
London - Catherine Margaret Ashton, the 52-year-old British Labour politician set to succeed Peter Mandelson as European Union (EU) trade commissioner in Brussels, has held a number of middle-ranking posts in the British government.
She has been responsible for issues including education, justice, equality and human rights.
As leader of the House of Lords, a position to which she was promoted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007, Ashton was a key figure in securing the parliamentary passage of the Lisbon Reform Treaty through the upper house of the British parliament.
Ashton was given a life peerage under the previous government of Tony Blair in 1999 and has since then been known as Baroness Ashton of Upholland, taking the title from her native town of Upholland, in the northern county of Lancashire.
In 2001, Ashton was made parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Department for Education and Skills, where she dealt with issues ranging from school policies to a ban on smacking by childminders.
In 2004, she took up a similar role at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, dealing with human rights, equality and justice issues.
Ashton is married to the journalist and pollster Peter Kellner. She has two children and three stepchildren.