EU Embarrassment: Trump downgrades Brussels’ status in US without even telling officials

DONALD Trump downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States last year without warning Brussels of the decision.

Photo: Reuters

 

The US State Department lowered the diplomatic importance of EU officials working in Washington, lowering the status of the delegation from member state to international organisation. EU diplomats only learnt of stinging rebuke after they noticed their ambassador to Washington, David O’Sullivan, had not been invited to a number high-profile events. The Brussels delegation believes the downgrade must have been implemented by the US President’s administration in late October or early November.

They finally had their reduced status confirmed by officials behind the organisation of the state funeral for President George H.W. on December 5.

Mr O’Sullivan, who has served as the EU’s ambassador to Washington since 2014, was not called up in the usual chronological order – from longest-serving to newest ambassadors – to pay his respects to President Bush.

An EU diplomat revealed “he was called up as the last person” instead.

Mr O’Sullivan would usually be called up in the first 20 or 30 ambassadors out of more than 150 foreign representatives serving in Washington.

Donald Trump Jean Claude Juncker
Donald Trump’s US administration downgraded EU’s diplomatic status in Washington without warning

Speaking to German broadcaster DW, the source added: “We don’t exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us.

“I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels.”

A second member state diplomat based in Washington accused the US of having a “political motive” behind the demotion.

The State Department’s actions have left a sour taste amongst member states after enduring a turbulent relationship with Mr Trump since his election.

“This is clearly not simply a protocol issue, but this is something that has a very obvious political motive,” the diplomat said.

“They have told us that they forgot to notify us and that this is a decision they have taken because that is apparently what the chief of protocol thinks is the proper thing to do.”

The EU was awarded nation state ambassador status in September 2016 after the bloc held lengthy negation with Barack Obama’s administration.

But under Mr Trump, the EU has not enjoyed the same relationship with the US.

Trade tensions between Brussels and Washington erupted when Mr Trump decided to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel.

The US President has also suggested he may trigger similar measures on the European car industry’s exports to the US.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom today heads to Washington for a round of talks with US counterpart Robert Lighthizer.

She will hope to avert any potential trade penalties being imposed of European car manufacturers.

The US Department for Trade is primed to release a report on whether imported motor vehicles should be considered a threat to national security.

Source :

Express

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