Diplomatic Scandal Arising Between EU and UK

Politics | January 21, 2021, Thursday // 15:23
Bulgaria: Diplomatic Scandal Arising Between EU and UK

A diplomatic row has broken out between the UK and EU over the status of the bloc's ambassador in London.

The UK is refusing to give Joao Vale de Almeida the full diplomatic status that is granted to other ambassadors.

The Foreign Office is insisting he and his officials should not have the privileges and immunity afforded to diplomats under the Vienna Convention.

It is understood not to want to set a precedent by treating an international body in the same way as a nation state.

As it stands, the ambassador would not have the chance to present his credentials to the Queen like other diplomatic heads of mission.

The British decision is in marked contrast to 142 other countries around the world where the EU has delegations and where its ambassadors are all granted the same status as diplomats representing sovereign nations.

Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, has written to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, to express his "serious concerns".

The issue is expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next Monday when they meet for the first time since the post-Brexit transition period ended on 31 December.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office wants to treat the EU delegation only as representatives of an international organisation.

This means EU diplomats would not have the full protection of the Vienna Convention, giving them immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.

The EU argues it is not a typical international organisation because it has its own currency, judicial system and the power to make law.

In his letter to Mr Raab last November, Mr Borrell says: "Your service have sent us a draft proposal for an establishment agreement about which we have serious concerns.

Some in the EU also fear hostile states might copy the UK and downgrade the protections granted to EU diplomats in their own countries. This could open them up to being harassed and make them easier for them to be expelled.

A European Commission spokesman said: "The UK, as a signatory to the Lisbon Treaty, is well aware of the EU's status in external relations, and was aware and supportive of this status while it was a member of the EU./Bbc

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