An undiplomatic row

The World Trade Organisation, The United Nations, The Holy See, Russia, China, Syria, Central African Republic, Timor-Leste. What do they have in common? They are just some of the 143 countries and multilateral organisations throughout the World that have granted EU ambassadors the same privileges and immunities equivalent to those of diplomatic missions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The UK, however, has chosen not to, instead arguing that the EU is an international organisation rather than a country. The EU Ambassador to the UK, João Vale de Almeida is one of the most experienced of all EU diplomats having previously served as ambassador to the United States between 2010 and 2014 and then as ambassador to the United Nations from 2015 to 2019.

To add further insult, the new head of the UK Mission to the EU, Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby who was appointed on the day that the BBC first reported the snub to the EU will take his post as a Grade 3 diplomat (on par with ambassadors in Berlin or Paris), whilst his predecessor Sir Tim Barrow was grade 4 (on par with Washington).

In a hasty climbdown the Foreign Office issued a statement clarifying that the EU’s “delegation and the staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the U.K. effectively.”

       The stance taken by the Foreign Office has been criticised by David Lidington, former Conservative Minister for Europe who expressed hope that the Foreign Office “does not pick a fight on this” and Tobias Ellwood another former Conservative Foreign minister who described it as “simply petty”

There is a precedent from 2019, when President Trump initiated a similar argument with the EU about the status of the EU ambassador to the United States.  On the day that President Biden started work on trying to rebuild America’s international reputation, it seems that British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, has driven another nail into our international reputation.

More from East Midlands Bylines

Please donate, follow us or sign up for the newsletter

More articles filed under Latest

Covid-19 and health inequalities in Leicestershire

Rosie Lindsay

‘We are in the same storm, but not the same boat.’ The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated inequalities in health. People living in the most deprived areas of the UK are more than twice as likely to die from contracting Covid-19, than people living in the least deprived areas. However, what we see now with […]

Workers’ rights

Simon Ferrigno

In 1998 the European Union’s Working Time Directive (WTD) was brought into UK law. Among other things, the directive sets limits on maximum weekly working time, creates a right to paid annual leave and provides for daily and weekly rest breaks. Now that Brexit is ‘done’, the government can choose whether to retain the conditions […]

Post-Brexit trade: a barren soil for seeds

Simon Ferrigno

Seeds of Italy is the UK importer of seeds from Franchi, the oldest family-run seed company in the world. They preserve old varieties renowned for taste; the company also deals with fine Italian foods and cosmetics. As for many other companies, the end of the Brexit transition period is causing no end of problems and […]