The Trump administration has angered EU officials by downgrading its diplomatic status in Washington. Officials have reported that he did so without even informing Brussels.
The move reversed a decision that was made by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2016 which upgraded the EU’s status to that of a nation state. President Trump’s snub, which downgraded the bloc’s status back down to an international organization, reflects his antipathy toward the European Union.
This snub is the latest aggravation in relations between the US and the EU since Trump took office. Under the Trump Administration the US has quarreled with the EU on a host of issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, trade, the Paris climate agreement and others.
Since assuming office in 2016, Trump has hardly been shy in expressing his disdain for the EU or for his support for the UK’s decision to leave the political union. For a long time now, Trump has regularly clashed with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, two of the EU’s foremost heads of state.
In the past Trump has gone as far as to describe the European Union as a ‘foe’.
EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic, in a statement given on Tuesday the 8th of January, said, “We were not notified of any change. We expect the diplomatic practice established some years ago to be observed.”
She added, “we remain natural partners, natural friends, and our friendship with the US is here to stay.”
Two additional diplomats from the EU have confirmed the downgrade. One stated that it was improbable that the bloc would retaliate due to its desire for amicable relations.
The US and the EU have the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship. According to data from the European Union, US investment in the bloc is three times higher than it is in Asia.
So, what changes as a result of the downgrade? Well, not all that much.
EU diplomats who are based in Washington will be less likely to be invited to events that are high-profile. In general, they will have lower status and less importance than they did under Obama.
Nicholas Burns, a neoconservative baby boomer, who worked as the under Secretary of State for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration, described the actions taken by the Trump administrations as “a gratuitous and an entirely unreasonable swipe at the EU”.
He added, “It coincides with Trump’s campaign to depict the EU as a competitor, and not a partner of the US. It continues the administration’s delegitimization of international organizations and the supranational organization that is the EU.”
I say, the delegitimization of international organizations like the World Bank, IMF, and European Union is long overdue, and should continue at full speed ahead.