Newly elected European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini in Brussels, August 30, 2014.
Yves Herman / Courtesy Reuters

Five years pass so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that EU leaders were emerging from an unseemly and apparently ad hoc appointment process to announce that Catherine Ashton, a member of the British House of Lords and a recently appointed European trade commissioner, would be the first-ever high representative for foreign affairs and security policy -- a sort of EU foreign minister. One existential currency crisis and two Russian invasions of Ukraine later, the EU is picking her successor.

With the passage of time and the rush of events, the stakes have become much higher. Yet the EU continues

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