EU Decries UK's 'Not Friendly' Refusal of Envoy Status


EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday slammed Britain's refusal to grant the bloc's envoy full diplomatic status and warned it dented prospects for post-Brexit cooperation. 

"It's not a friendly signal -- the first one that the United Kingdom has sent to us immediately after leaving the European Union," Borrell said after a meeting of the EU's 27 foreign ministers. 

"If things have to continue like this it says: no good prospects."

London has sparked ire in Brussels by saying the EU's envoy should not be treated like a diplomat from a sovereign nation, but work under the lesser privileges of envoys from international organizations. 

The EU insists its representative Joao Vale de Almeida should be awarded full diplomatic status, as is the case for its ambassadors to 143 other countries around the world where the bloc has delegations.

Last week London named a former member of its Brexit negotiating team, Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby, as its ambassador to the European Union, although he is still listed as a more junior charge d'affaires on the European Commission list of accredited diplomats.  

"You know, we do not ask for something new, we don't ask for any special treatment," Borrell said.

His statement came after EU ministers discussed chances for foreign and defence cooperation with the UK at their meeting after London refused to include it in the post-Brexit deal struck late last year. 

Borrell insisted the EU remained "confident that we can clear this matter with our friends in London in a satisfactory manner".

But European diplomats have warned that Brussels could retaliate over the UK's move. 

"There will be a reaction from the EU. We deem this as an unnecessary, provocative and unfriendly act," a senior European diplomat told AFP last week. 

Last week, a spokesman from the British foreign ministry played down the row, insisting the status of an international organisation would not harm the EU's  ability to work in London.

"The EU, its delegation and the staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the UK effectively," he said.

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