United Kingdom

UK refuses to grant EU diplomats full status, sparking row - BBC

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Flags of the Union Jack and European Union are seen ahead of the meeting of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Brussels, Belgium December 9, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Britain is refusing to give full diplomatic status to the European Union's ambassador in London, causing a row between the recently divorced parties, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Britain, an EU member for 46 years, voted to quit in 2016 and completed its tortuous journey out of the bloc on Dec. 31, when Brexit fully took effect.

The BBC reported that the Foreign Office was refusing to grant the same diplomatic status and privileges to EU ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida and his team as it gives to envoys of countries, on the basis that the EU is not a nation state.

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The Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EU has 143 delegations, equivalent to diplomatic missions, around the world. All of them have been granted full diplomatic status by the host countries.

The BBC quoted a letter sent to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab by Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, in which he said London's proposals on the issue did not constitute a reasonable basis for agreement.

"The arrangements offered do not reflect the specific character of the EU, nor do they respond to the future relationship between the EU and the UK as an important third country," Borrell wrote. A third country means a non-member.

The BBC said EU sources had accused Britain of pettiness and hypocrisy, pointing out that when it was still a member, it had signed up to granting EU envoys full diplomatic status.

The report quoted the Foreign Office in London as saying: "Engagement continues with the EU on the long-term arrangements for the EU delegation to the UK."

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Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Michael Holden

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