Brussels is at war with itself and Baroness Ashton of Upholland is losing on every front. It is just three months into her job as the EU's first ever foreign minister and Lady Ashton has "travelled the distance from being the nobody, that everybody loved to mock, to becoming the mediocrity, that everybody loves to hate".Yes, it probably is. Quel dommage!
That acid assessment, made by an official from a rival Brussels camp, is hostile but expresses a widely held belief that Lady Ashton has become the "fall guy" in unprecedented bureaucratic warfare unleashed by the Lisbon Treaty.
Europe teeters on the brink of a sovereign debt, Greek default, or worse, crisis and is struggling to assert itself in a G2 world dominated by the US and China. But rather than facing outwards, Brussels is gloomily gazing inwards and increasingly blaming Lady Ashton for the EU's marginalisation on the global stage.
"We have fought tooth and nail for nine years to get the Lisbon Treaty, or some form of EU Constitution. Can this really be what it is about?" said a French official.
It seems that the lady is not competent enough to understand when she is being set up to be the fall guy (or dame) for other people's incompetence - she missed an important meeting with defence ministers that was also attended by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato chief, in Majorca.
In fact, as her officials and British diplomats have since observed, Lady Ashton had changed her plans, switching from Spain to visit Ukraine for the inauguration of President Yanukovych in Ukraine, on the explicit instruction of EU foreign ministers on Monday. Setting her up for the fall, both Herman Van Rompuy, the EU President and Jose Manuel Barroso, the Commission President, who would usually carry out such duties, had declined to travel to Kiev.It is so good to see that European friendship and cordiality is thriving.
Ironically, Mr Van Rompuy's excuse was a Thursday night speech on EU foreign policy to the eurocrat training university, the College of Bruges. Mr Barroso begged off because he had a Brussels lunch date with Kenneth Clarke, the pro-EU shadow Business Secretary. Mr Morin, the Frenchman who led the criticism, had himself only turned up for a few hours of the two day defence meeting because he was trying to avoid an angry backlash from Eastern European countries furious at the French sale of a high-technology Mistral class warship to Russia, their old enemy.