EU's new trade chief takes up position

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union governments have confirmed the appointment of Catherine Ashton as the European Union's new trade commissioner.

Ashton replaces Peter Mandelson, who quit as EU trade chief last week. Mandelson was named to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Cabinet as new business secretary to help handle the global financial crisis.

The European Commission says Ashton took up her new job Monday. She has been a baroness in Britain's House of Lords.

Ashton will serve out the remaining year of Mandelson's five-year term. Mandelson had been a lightning rod of sorts among EU nations over his efforts to push through more tariff-free trade with competitors like China and India.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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