The European Union is up in arms today after the UK refused to give the new EU ambassador to the UK full diplomatic status.
Certain diplomatic privileges are usually afforded to ambassadors and their delegations from countries around the world, however the UK is reportedly reluctant to set a precedent by acknowledging an international body in the same way as a nation state.
As such, the new EU ambassador to the UK, Joao Vale de Almeida and other EU diplomats would not be immune from criminal jurisdiction or taxation, nor would they enjoy additional diplomatic rights enshrined in the Vienna Convention.
One EU source told the BBC: “It seems petty. This is not about privileges, it’s about principle. What does it say about the UK, about how much the British signature is worth?”
The European Commission pointed out that it currently has 143 delegations around the world and “without exception, all host states have accepted to grant these delegations and their staff a status equivalent to that of diplomatic missions of states under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the UK is well aware of this fact.”
In a statement, the EU executive added: “The EU’s status in external relations and its subsequent diplomatic status is amply recognised by countries and international organisations around the world, and we expect the United Kingdom to treat the EU Delegation accordingly and without delay.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Engagement continues with the EU on the long-term arrangements for the EU delegation to the UK. While discussions are still ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the detail of an eventual agreement.”
Donald Trump caused similar outrage in Brussels when he downgraded the EU’s diplomatic status without notice, a move which was “not well received” in Berlaymont.