Britain resists giving European Union diplomats full status, sparking row

Marco Green
January 22, 2021

Mr de Almeida has not been given the same status as ambassadors sent by national governments.

The EU argues it is not a typical worldwide organisation because it has its own currency, judicial system and the power to make law.

Under the deal agreed by London and Brussels in December, British musicians will be able to tour in European Union countries without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, but will need work permits to perform in some countries like Germany and Spain.

Mr Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said: "This is simply petty".

"(Joe) Biden commits to strengthening alliances and we engage in silly spats which will not help strengthen security and trade cooperation.

"We are better than this".

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office wants to treat the European Union delegation only as representatives of an global organisation.

The decision is in contrast to the 142 other countries where European Union ambassadors have full diplomatic status.

"Strange position for Brexiteers to take", he added.

But Whitehall sources insisted that worldwide organisations were offered "very similar privileges and immunities" to diplomatic missions sent by foreign governments.

This week a minister said "the door is open" if the European Union was willing to "consider the UK's very sensible proposals" on visa arrangements for musicians.

The EU says the rest of its 143 delegations around the world have all been given full diplomatic status.

The Brexit agreement between Britain and the European Union, which was put in place on January 1 permits European Union citizens to enter the United Kingdom as a tourist for more than six months, while Britons musical bands can tour Europe only if they first obtain a visa for that goal, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The British decision is in marked contrast to 142 other countries around the world where the European Union has delegations and where its ambassadors are all granted the same status as diplomats representing sovereign nations.

"Granting reciprocal treatment based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is standard practice between equal partners and we are confident that we can clear this issue with our friends in London in a satisfactory manner", said Peter Stano, the commission's spokesman for foreign affairs.

The broadcaster, which has seen the letter, said that sources within the Foreign Office said that EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida and his staff should not be afforded the status outlined in the Vienna Convention, which includes immunity from taxation, arrest, or detention.

EU High Representative Borrell wrote to Mr Raab late a year ago: "Your service have sent us a draft proposal for an establishment agreement about which we have serious concerns".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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