Saturday

1st Oct 2022

Sweden complains about EU appointment to US

  • Bildt: the letter was sent out to EU capitals ahead of Monday's foreign ministers meeting (Photo: Council of European Union)

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has in a letter complained about the way the EU commission recently appointed its top envoy to the US.

The letter, dated 19 February and addressed to EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton, asks how the appointment was made, since the rules governing the procedure are still under discussion by member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It says that Ms Ashton seems not to have played a major role in the decision and calls for a wider discussion of the US move.

The letter was distributed to EU capitals on the eve of a foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday (22 February), where it is likely to spark debate.

The European Commission on 17 February nominated Joao Vale de Almeida, EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's former chief of staff and a fellow Portuguese official, to become its new head of mission in Washington.

Under the Libson Treaty, which came into force in December last year, diplomatic appointments are now Ms Ashton's prerogative. But the detailed rules of procedure will not be in place until April.

EU diplomats last week told EUobserver that the move is justifiable because the EU is still in a "transitional" phase and that the formal proposal had been put forward in Ms Ashton's name.

Some EU officials see the Almeida decision as a power grab by the commission chief.

"In the future, if the US wants to send a message to the EU, it will go through Almeida because it knows he has a special relationship with Barroso. Ashton will be left out," one contact said.

But it also removes a Barroso loyalist from the post of head of the commission's external relations department, giving individual member states the chance to lobby for one of their own to become Ms Ashton's deputy.

The Bildt letter is unlikely to see a reversal of Mr Almeida's appointment, which would be an embarrassment for the union.

But Sweden's position could gain sympathy from new member states, which feel that the EU establishment is conspiring to keep them out of top diplomatic posts - just one of the commission's 136 foreign delegations is headed by a person from one of the new EU members six years after enlargement.

"If the entire region feels disenfranchised, before you know it, we will kick up a fuss," a senior diplomat from one of the new member states said.

Ukraine, another important commission delegation, is also headed by an old Portuguese friend of Mr Barroso - Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira. But some new member states would like to see a more political figure who is well known in the region take over.

German press agency DPA reports that Ms Ashton will on Monday appoint Lithuanian diplomat Vygaudas Usackas to be her envoy to Afghanistan, potentially soothing nerves.

Sweden continues attack on US appointment

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has said the EU commission's sneaky way of handling a recent US appointment will not be repeated, following a high-level debate in Brussels.

Feature

Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us