Saturday

24th Jul 2021

US embassy to EU in phase one of 'shutdown'

  • Obama cut short his Asia trip due to the crunch (Photo: G8 UK Presidency)

Diplomats at the US mission to the EU can no longer buy office supplies or travel to conferences, as the US "shutdown" begins to bite the state department.

The shutdown started on Tuesday (1 October) after opposition Republican party congressmen refused to endorse a new budget.

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

They did it in an effort to block US President Barack Obama from passing a law on more affordable healthcare.

In the US, it has put the best part of a million civil servants on unpaid leave and led to museums and parks being closed.

But it is also beginning to affect US diplomacy.

Obama on Wednesday cut short a tour to Asia due to the problem.

A European Commission spokeswoman the same day said EU-US talks on how to enforce new US commodity trading rules have suffered.

She said that single market commissioner Michel Barnier sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in Washington prior to the budget crunch, but "we haven't got a reply … yet."

She noted there is contact at "senior political level."

But she added the CFTC is closed for now, meaning "there is no contact at technical, official level at this time," in a development which she described as "problematic."

The EU, next week, is also planning to hold the next round of talks on creating a trans-Atlantic free trade area.

According to a US state department paper which sets out guidelines on the shutdown, travel by diplomats is still permitted for "negotiation of major treaties."

But on a more day-to-day level, a US diplomat in Brussels told EUobserver: "Our mission has curtailed activities in accordance with the document."

The memo notes that representatives of the world's only superpower must stop "purchases of equipment, services, or supplies."

It says: "No new travel should be arranged; no one should make new arrangements to attend conferences" and "no new offers of employment may be made."

It also says staff should not organise cocktail parties or other "representational events."

It tells them not to ask for overtime and it says that petty cash expenses "may be filed, but no money can be disbursed."

Meanwhile, if you want a visa for US travel, you are better off applying at one of America's larger embassies, just in case.

The US memo noted that: "consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100 percent operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations."

But it added: "If a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported."

Trade officials 'optimistic' following EU-US talks

EU and US trade negotiators signalled their satisfaction at the close of the first week of talks aimed at securing a potentially lucrative bilateral trade agreement worth €119 billion per year.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us