Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, is a British politician who served as leader of the House of Lords (2007–08), European Union (EU) trade commissioner (2008–09), and high representative for foreign affairs and security policy for the EU (2009–14).
Throughout her parliamentary career, she focused on education and human rights issues. She served as a junior education minister (2001–04), and in 2002 she assumed leadership of the early-childhood-development initiative Sure Start. In 2004 Ashton switched portfolios, becoming a junior minister for constitutional affairs. She was admitted to the Privy Council in May 2006. In 2007 Ashton served briefly as a junior justice minister before being promoted to leader of the House of Lords by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In that role she was instrumental in easing the passage of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty through the upper house. The following year she was appointed to the European Commission as trade commissioner.
In December 2009, she became the inaugural High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that was created by the Treaty of Lisbon. She held this position until November 2014 when she was succeeded by Federica Mogherini.