Helga Schmid is the European Union’s Deputy Secretary General for the External Action Service (the “Foreign ministry” of the EU if you will).
(Photo: David Ausserhofer)
Or in other words: She’s Ashton’s number 2 and currently making headlines since she is the one actually heading the delicate diplomatic logistics of the “Iranian nuclear talks.” (I’ve previously given her a shout out for her efforts – latest in June). The EU is organising the talks on behalf of the P5+1 (the 5 Permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Iran)…which is why some people favour the label E3+3 (it’s the same countries, now just organised by geography rather than organisational membership: Germany, UK, France, US, China and Russia).
She was in the news this morning (or rather: the commentary on the news) as Ashton’s statement on next ‘low level’ round of talk. (here’s AI Monitor’s Laura Rozen’s analysis on the wording of the statement and a picture of Schmid with Ashton and Clinton. More Rozen on Schmid’s role in the talks here, The Guardian’s Julian Borger here (from June)).
Now you might ask: Why all this talk about Iran and the negotiations and not about Schmid? Well, because she’s doing her job really well. And as a career diplomat, she is not the story.
Her CV (you can read it here — it’s the official version. We do not use gossip columns on this blog) shows that her MA is in English and Romance languages, literature, history and politics. Being from humanities myself and segwaying into politics, I like this. And I think it reflects the making of a good political operative: Deep learning, broad horizons. You have to know a lot about a lot, in addition to your speciality.
It is my impression that she is very well-respected on the ground and popular both with her Iranian counterparts and the P5+1/E3+3 group. And that’s why she’s our first feature in this series. Because yes, it is inspiring that it is a woman who is currently tasked with trying to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear bombs in the 11th hour.