The United Kingdom is expected to backtrack on its refusal to give the EU ambassador to the UK full diplomatic status, it has emerged.
João Vale de Almeida, the chief EU diplomat in London will be formally recognised after Foreign Office sources told The Times that Number 10’s reluctance to offer full diplomatic rights had had an “unhealthy, chilling effect” on relations across the Channel.
The row erupted shortly after the Brexit transition period expired at the start of the year, with the UK reportedly opposed to setting a precedent by acknowledging an international body in the same way as a nation state.
“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.”
“It’s a matter of fact that the EU is a collective of nations, but it’s not a state… in its own right,” a spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson told reporters at the time.
The European Commission had been outraged by the British response, pointing out that the bloc 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.”
Diplomatic sources told The Times newspaper that the breakdown in relations had more negotiations with Brussels more difficult, claiming “it is a silly dispute but has had a corrosive effect.”
A senior government source informed the newspaper that talks to restore the EU’s diplomatic rights were taking place adding: “I think it will be resolved sooner rather than later.”