EU’s ambition is ‘to be political superstate’ says commentator
Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU’s first ambassador in London after Brexit, has been refused the same diplomatic privileges as ambassadors sent by national governments because the UK has deemed the bloc to be an international organisation like NATO or the UN rather than an individual state.
For a pro-Brexit former MEP like me, the situation is replete with irony
Furious EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has now written to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab directly demanding an explanstion and Michel Barnier, who led the EU’s negotiating team during Brexit talks, has warned the UK should be “very careful” in its approach.
But Brexiteer politician Patrick O’Flynn said the spat had simply revealed how the EU now “self-IDs” as a superstate.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “For a pro-Brexit former MEP like me, the situation is replete with irony.”
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He continued: “I spent many years arguing just this case – that the EU was an embryonic superstate that was accruing essential sovereignty from countries that it had downgraded to ‘member states’.
“To the EU’s aforementioned inventory of nation-state characteristics could be added its own flag, anthem and parliament.
“It does seem strange that, even post-Brexit, the Foreign Office should be seeking to maintain its long-running fiction that the EU is just another multinational grouping like the Commonwealth or NATO.
“If it ever was just that then surely it transitioned long ago via a series of treaties, including Maastricht and Lisbon, which gave it its own legal personality.”
Mr O’Flynn said the diplomatic row had raised difficult questions about the status of its 27 member states now the EU was “openly identifying and behaving as a country”.
He said: “Can they really be considered full independent nations too? Can sovereignty over the same matters be said to reside in EU institutions and national ones simultaneously?
“True intellectual consistency would demand that were the EU’s demands to be acceded to, Mr Raab would need to call in 27 European ambassadors and tell them they were being downgraded to provincial emissaries no longer entitled to ignore parking fines or tax demands.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “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.”
But Brussels said the EU’s 143 delegations and staff in other parts of the world had been accorded a status equivalent to countries’ embassies under the Vienna Convention, which governs the rules of international diplomacy.
The Vienna Convention grants diplomats immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.
But Whitehall sources insisted that international organisations were offered “very similar privileges and immunities” to diplomatic missions sent by foreign governments.
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European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the UK, which, as a member of the EU, was a signature to the Lisbon Treaty which established the European External Action Service diplomatic network, was “well aware of the EU’s status in external relations”.
He said: “Nothing has changed since the UK’s exit from the European Union to justify any change in stance on the UK’s part.
“The EU’s status in external relations and its subsequent diplomatic status is amply recognised by countries and international organisations around the world, and we expect the United Kingdom to treat the EU delegation accordingly and without delay.
“The European Union has 143 delegations, equivalent to diplomatic missions, around the world.
“Without exception, all host states have accepted to grant these delegations and their staff a status equivalent to that of diplomatic missions of states under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, and the UK is well aware of this fact.”
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