The new centre-right coalition ruling the European Parliament since the start of 2017 is seeking to block US President Donald Trump’s expected nomination as US Ambassador to the EU, economist and author Ted Malloch, claiming that it is unacceptable to accredit an ambassador to the EU that has openly declared he wants to destroy the Union.
The leaders of the Christian Democrat (EPP) and Liberal (ALDE) Groups in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber and Guy Verhofstadt, have written a joint letter to the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, calling on them to refuse accredition to Mr Malloch, should he be nominated by President Trump as the next US Ambassador to the EU.
The objections raised by Messrs Weber and Verhofstadt, which are shared by the leader of the centre-left S&D Group, Gianni Pittella, relate to recent statements made by Mr Malloch, deemed to be openly hostile to the EU. In a series of interviews with British media, Mr Malloch has, inter alia:
- Compared the EU with the Soviet Union
- Expressed a desire to ‘tame’ or even bring down the EU
- Supported the UK exit from the EU (Brexit)
- Predicted other Member State departures from the EU
- Bet on the failure of the EU currency, the Euro
- Ridiculed the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
While no supporter of free speech could question Mr Malloch’s right to express his views on all of the above, it is not reasonable to expect that EU leaders would accept him as an ambassador to the Union. Any US Ambassador must represent the views of their country, and especially of its President; but he cannot carry out his important diplomatic role effectively if he openly attacks the host country or organisation. Could one imagine President Trump accepting the credentials of foreign ambassador who had gone on TV to criticise Mr Trump himself, bet on the collapse of the US Dollar, compared the USA to the Soviet Union, or urged the southern US states to secede from the Union and revert to the Confederate States? He would not, and he would be right not to.
The EU is not of course a state; however, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the Union has international legal personality and its own ‘Foreign Service’, the European External Action Service, headed by its own ‘Foreign Minister’, the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, currently Federica Mogherini. It has full diplomatic relations with almost every country in the world and appoints resident EU Ambassadors to most.
The procedure for accrediting foreign ambassadors to the EU involves a consultation of the 28 EU Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. Although the European Parliament has no formal role in this procedure, it is difficult to imagine the the other two EU institutions accrediting Ted Malloch if there is a clear and strong majority in the EP opposed to it.