close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
January 22, 2021

UK insists it will not grant EU ambassador full diplomatic status

World

AFP
January 22, 2021

LONDON: Britain and the EU are locked in a diplomatic row over London’s refusal to give full diplomatic status to the 27-member bloc’s envoy following Brexit.

After Britain left the EU in January 2020, Brussels set up a European delegation in London. But a spat has developed over the diplomatic privileges the EU’s ambassador to the UK, Joao Vale de Almeida, should enjoy -- on the same day Britain named its own new man in Brussels.

The EU insists its envoy should be awarded the full diplomatic status of a sovereign nation, as is the case for its ambassadors to 143 other countries around the world where the bloc has delegations.

Meanwhile London argues that the EU envoy should only be given the lesser privileges awarded to international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund. The row erupted hours before Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby would be the new head of the United Kingdom Mission to the European Union.

"As we begin a new chapter in our relationship with the EU, I am delighted to appoint Lindsay as head of UKMis," he said. "His previous knowledge and expertise will be vital as our friendly cooperation with the EU continues," he said of Croisdale-Appleby, who has recently been dealing with Brexit in the Foreign Office.

Since Britain formally left the EU last year, Croisdale-Appleby’s predecessor as ambassador to Brussels had enjoyed full diplomatic privileges there. Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, insisted that the EU had been "conferred substantial competences by its member states".

As a signatory to the Lisbon Treaty, Britain was "well aware of the EU’s status in external relations," Stano told AFP. "Nothing has changed since the UK’s exit from the European Union to justify any change in stance on the UK’s part," he argued.

In London, a foreign ministry spokesman insisted that the "EU, its delegation and staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the UK effectively".

Nevertheless, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that Britain should be "very careful" with regard to the issue. Speaking at a virtual event hosted in Ireland on Thursday, Barnier dismissed Britain’s characterisation of the EU as an international institution, insisting that the bloc was a union.

"The UK took part in this union for more or less 47 or 48 years," he said. "I hope that we will be able together to find a clever and objective solution to the status of the EU in London," Barnier said.Lord Adonis, a strongly pro-European Labour peer, said: “Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have decided not just to leave the EU but to insult it – denying full diplomatic status to the EU ambassador being the latest insult. Very unwise.

“The Italian writer Niccolò Machiavelli once wrote: ‘People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge.’” The EU mission in the UK is active in trying to explain EU thinking, including most recently on how the City of London will be treated post-Brexit. The emphasis of the mission since its inception has been on building cooperation between the UK and EU.Almeida is regarded as a very senior EU diplomat, having previously served as EU ambassador to the UN from 2015 to 2019, and EU ambassador to the US from 2010 to 2014.