A dispute has broken out between the two sides over diplomatic status of the EU’s ambassador in London. The Foreign Office is declining to grant officials from international organisations, such as the EU, with the full diplomatic status as it would give to an individual nation state. Joao Vale de Almeida has become the EU’s first ambassador in London after Brexit, and he will not be granted the same privileges afforded to diplomats under the Vienna Convention.
As it stands, Mr de Almeida would not benefit from immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.
The European Commission has condemned the move and says its 143 delegations and staff in other parts of the world had been accorded a status equivalent to countries’ embassies.
A spokesman argued “nothing has changed” since Brexit.
The Foreign Office has said talks are ongoing for a long term solution.
Former Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips says to the latest incident enforces the argument made by Brexiteers that the EU wants to become a superstate and treated like a country rather than a 27 nation trading bloc.
In a post on Twitter, Ms Phillips also exposed points made by Remainers during the 2016 EU referendum.
She wrote: “During Referendum: Leavers: EU is a superstate with flag, anthem, currency and imperial ambitions!
“Remainers: Pish! It’s a progressive bloc of member states!
“Today: EU: We have a flag, anthem and currency and must be treated as a superstate by the UK.”
The issue is expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next Monday.
Tory MP and chair of the Commons Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood described the row as a “silly spat” and insisted the UK should be “better than this”.
A European Commission spokesman said: “The UK, as a signatory to the Lisbon Treaty, is well aware of the EU’s status in external relations, and was cognisant and supportive of this status while it was a member of the EU.
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“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.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Engagement continues with the EU on the long-term arrangements for the EU delegation to the UK.
“While discussions are still ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the detail of an eventual agreement.”