U.S President Donald Trump has downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union in Washington, without informing officials or Brussels itself.
The downgrade to international organisation status reverses a decision by former President, Barack Obama, which granted the EU an enhanced diplomatic role in DC.
According to CNN, the EU ambassador to the US, David O’Sullivan, realised his status had been downgraded at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush after he was among the last to be called to pay his respects.
Maja Kocijančič, the spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs and security policy, told the Guardian: “We understand that there was a recent change in the way the diplomatic precedence list is implemented by the United States’ protocol.
“We were not notified of any change.”
The change will mean the EU mission will have less clout in Washington, having less access to US officials and events.
Last summer, the President described the EU as a “foe”. He told CBS News: “I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe. Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive… I respect the leaders of those countries. But, in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us and many of those countries are in NATO and they weren’t paying their bills.”
Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state for the George W Bush administration, described the snub as “gratuitous and entirely unreasonable swipe at the EU”.
“Americans should remember that the EU is our largest trade partner and largest investor in our economy.
“Trump’s entire policy toward the EU continues to be misguided and ineffective,” he added.