EU calls for full recognition of envoy to UK

The European Union is calling on the UK to grant the body's first-ever ambassador to the country full diplomatic status

FILE - In this Monday, June 2, 2014 file photo, European Union Ambassador to the US Joao Vale de Almeida answers questions during a newsmaker interview at the Associated Press in Washington. Britain has sparked a post-Brexit spat with the European Union on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 by declining to grant the bloc’s first-ever ambassador to the country full diplomatic status. Joao Vale de Almeida is the 27-nation EU’s envoy to the U.K., which left the bloc last year. But the British government says the EU is an international organization, rather than a country, and has not given Vale de Almeida the full rights accorded to ambassadors, including immunity from taxation and prosecution.  (AP Photo/J. David Ake, file)
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The European Union on Monday called on the United Kingdom to grant the EU’s first-ever ambassador to the country full diplomatic status after the government in London declined to accord him those rights.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is refusing to grant full diplomatic status to Joao Vale de Almeida, the 27-nation EU’s envoy to the UK.

London says the EU is an organisation rather than a country.

Full diplomatic status grants immunity from taxation and prosecution among other rights to ambassadors under the Vienna Convention.

“We will not accept that the United Kingdom will be the only country in the world that doesn’t recognise the delegation of the European Union (as) the equivalent of a diplomatic mission,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.

Mr Borrell said that EU delegations are recognised by 143 countries “without a single exception.”

“It’s not a friendly signal; the first one the United Kingdom has sent to us immediately after leaving the European Union. If things have to continue like this, there’s no good prospects,” said Mr Borrell almost exactly a year after Britain officially left the EU in an acrimonious divorce.

“We do not ask for something new or we don’t ask for special treatment,” he said. Mr Borrell gave no indication of what the EU might do if the problem is not resolved soon.

The UK foreign office said last week that “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.”