When will the “virtuous circle” start with the UK?

Catalina Guerrero

Brussels, Feb 17 (EFE) .- “Create a virtuous circle, not a vicious circle” between the European Union and the United Kingdom. It is the spirit that moves the EU ambassador in London, Joao Vale de Almeida, who has been denied diplomatic status by the British Government since he was appointed head of the European delegation on February 1, 2020, the same day that the country it became a “third country”.

“We have to build a mature relationship with the UK and increase levels of trust. We are all interested in creating a virtuous circle, not a vicious circle. Together we can do a lot of good,” Vale de Almeida tweeted a few days ago, more than one year after settling in the British capital.

“There is nothing new we can say publicly on the subject. As long as the engagement with our partners in London continues we will not publicly comment on the details of the daily work of the head of our delegation. He, like the entire delegation, are fully operational and deal to do the best possible in the current circumstances, “European Commission Foreign spokesman Peter Stano told Efe.

Relations between Brussels and London, strained by years of painful Brexit talks, were frayed last month when the EU threatened to use emergency measures to prevent coronavirus vaccines from entering Northern Ireland, but the first sign of turbulence started more than a year ago.


“That alarm signal had already existed for a year, until it came to the press now,” the acting head of the EU Working Group for Relations with the United Kingdom, Clara Martínez Alberola, right-hand man of Michel Barnier in the negotiation of the Trade and Association Agreement reached last Christmas Eve.

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“Our ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida took office and then there they already started with problems,” Martínez Almeida revealed about the situation he encountered when his boss arrived in London when both were part of the cabinet of the then president of the European Commission , José Manuel Durao Barroso.

The British Government has said since then that “it is very complicated because he (Vale de Almeida) is going to be an ambassador for an international organization, of which they are not part, and that is not foreseen in their legislation and they have to change it” , continues Martínez Alberola, who was head of the cabinet of Durao Barroso’s successor at the head of the Community Executive, Jean-Claude Juncker.

“And that’s how we have been since then. What has happened – he clarifies – is that those exchanges of letters, a letter signed by the high representative (of EU Foreign Policy, Josep) Borrell went to the press and that’s when that problem broke out” publicly.

A problem that Martínez Alberola does not worry “too much” about, since she is convinced that “it will be fixed”.

For her it is “a matter of sitting down” and negotiating the “privileges and immunities” of the status of the EU ambassador in London, which does not correspond to a third country or an international organization.

And is that “mutual respect is essential for the constructive development of relations,” wrote Borrell in an article on his blog entitled: “How can the EU and the UK better cooperate on foreign policy after Brexit?

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For this reason, Brussels cannot accept the UK’s decision not to grant the EU ambassador in London diplomatic status, a status that Vale de Almeida has had in his two previous assignments in Washington and at the United Nations.

This attitude goes against the statements of the United Kingdom about the search for a relationship between “equals and sovereigns”, according to Borrell, who recalled that the United Kingdom itself supported, when it was a member of the EU, that its delegations have diplomatic status full, something granted by 143 other countries where an EU delegation is open.

That “unfriendly” signal, in Borrell’s words, must cease “as soon as possible” so that the two parties can focus their “combined energies” on collaborating on the global geopolitical board.


“Just when the Brexit episode has just occurred, what we do not need is diplomatic nonsense by the Government of Boris Johnson,” says Tono López-Isturiz, a PP MEP and secretary general of the European People’s Party (PPE).

It is “an unnecessary and absurd insult when there are still fringes to close in future relations between the EU and the United Kingdom, adds López-Isturiz, for whom this type of” low-level actions against diplomatic protocols do not contribute to a relationship. fluid “and warns that” the patience of the EU is finite. ”

“The UK would do well, instead of wasting time with these unnecessary issues that all they do is muddy relationships, dedicate themselves to making people’s lives and the economy easier, solving the problems they have created as a result of Brexit” , concludes the popular MEP.

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Nacho Sánchez Amor, a socialist MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, expresses himself in similar terms, for whom it is “regrettable” that Johnson “runs to occupy the place that (former US President Donald) Trump has left vacant in the international politics, when it also represents a country with the very long diplomatic tradition of the United Kingdom “.

“It is a simply incomprehensible position. What at first may be an administrative pothole becomes a political problem when it is not resolved immediately,” he told Efe.

This gesture, according to López Amor, “serves, without a doubt, so that we do not trust ourselves”, although he wants to “trust” that “the British side will see reason and we will be able to turn the page soon.

It is time, Vale de Almeida also underlines, for “a new beginning with old friends.” EFE


(More information about the European Union at euroefe.euractiv.es)


| Q: POL: es-ES: 11014001: Politics: International organizations: International relations |

| P: BEL |



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