The storm over Baroness Ashton of Uphollands faltering start as Europes top diplomat intensified yesterday when she was sent a letter on how to do her job from David Miliband, the man whom many favoured for the post. Lady Ashton, who was plucked from relative obscurity to represent the EU, was warned by the Foreign Secretary that she risked losing a Brussels power struggle over the scope of her empire. Mr Miliband, adopting a lecturing tone, expressed concern over infighting between European institutions, warned that the Commission may try to take control of large parts of the fledgeling foreign service and urged her to expand EU missions in capitals such as Delhi, Islamabad, Beijing and Brasilia. Later Mr Miliband, who ruled himself out of the job last year, insisted that it would be absurd to interpret his letter, seen by The Times and sent to EU leaders, as criticising Lady Ashton. The aim was to get his fellow EU foreign ministers to back her as she tries to set up her department, officials said, because she is under attack on all sides. Yet Mr Milibands intervention, in a document co-written with Carl Bildt, Swedens Foreign Minister, was seen as reflecting British concern at Lady Ashtons lack of authority in the battle with Commission bureaucrats over the creation of the European foreign service, which will have at least 5,000 staff around the world. Our letter shows our clear and unequivocal support for Cathy Ashtons efforts to ensure an effective External Action Service, Mr Miliband said in a statement last night. Any suggestion to the contrary is utterly ridiculous. Since becoming EU High Representative on December 1, Lady Ashton has been accused of poor decision-making and lack of visibility, in criticism led by French ministers and newspapers but joined by other EU nations. Ennobled by Tony Blair, she was Leader of the Lords for a year, and then replaced Lord Mandelson as Trade Commissioner but within a year of that was the surprise choice as High Representative, a role created by the Lisbon treaty. Critics noted that the carve-up for EU jobs dictated that the High Representative be from the Centre Left and preferably female. She was criticised by the French for not rushing to Haiti to demonstrate the EUs help after the earthquake, and for agreeing to the appointment as EU Washington envoy of a colleague of her boss at the Commission, Jos Manuel Barroso. Mr Miliband insisted that his letter was intended to give Lady Ashton much needed backing when she meets EU foreign ministers at their meeting in Spain. Her office said that she would be asking them for full support in setting up the External Action Service. The new body will only work if the Commission, the member states and the council secretariat are able to work together coherently, Mr Miliband and Mr Bildt warned in their letter. We are concerned about some of the inter-institutional struggles evident in our current negotiations . . . Rivalries are well ingrained. British diplomats feel that Lady Ashton, who was visiting Haiti yesterday, has been handed a huge job in which it is impossible to keep everyone happy. The post brought together the external relations departments of the Commission and the European Council representing member states. EU foreign ministers have been notably absent in their support and must start pulling on the other end of the rope, one diplomat said. The Commission is busy claiming power over chunks of her empire, such as appointing heads of EU delegations. In a pointed remark referring to the choice of Joo Vale de Almeida, Mr Barrosos former chief of staff, for Washington, Mr Miliband and Mr Bildt wrote: Recruitment of staff should be transparent and based on merit. The squabbling in Brussels has reached such a pitch because Lady Ashton intends to present her proposal on the structure of the External Action Service by the end of March a month later than her initial goal. One EU diplomat yesterday said: She is having to fight on a thousand fronts, that is why it has been so hard for her. It is not easy to make these changes, even for someone with vast experience. (The Times)