British MPs warned that reducing the size of the British diplomatic mission in Brussels could undermine the remaining influence in the European Union after Britain’s exit from the European Union.
When the UK was still part of the European Union, positions in Brussels were among the most sought-after for British Foreign Office officials. However, their situation has deteriorated significantly since the referendum in June 2016.
Following Brexit, the UK Embassy to the EU was renamed the UK Mission to the EU (UKMis) and staff numbers were reduced by more than a quarter, from 180 to 130. There has also been a rise in staff turnover since 2016 Further staff reductions are expected in the coming years.
In a new report published on Tuesday (October 24), British MPs on the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee warned that “reducing the size of the UK mission could harm the UK’s ability to effectively exercise influence on behalf of its geopolitical interests.”, according to the report.
The cross-party committee has a conservative majority. Its president, Bill Cash, was one of the early supporters of Brexit. However, in his report he expressed concern about the extent of the cuts to the UK delegation to the EU.
Committee chairman Bill Cash said: “Having diplomats who have a comprehensive understanding of how the EU works is as important to the whole British family now as it was when we were a member.” “It is important that we maintain current staffing levels.”
The head of the EU delegation, Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby, has the same diplomatic rank as the British ambassadors in Paris and Berlin, although she is below the rank of the head of mission in Washington, DC. At the same time, the position of Deputy Ambassador to Brussels was abolished.
The review is based on information from British officials in Brussels, the Welsh Government and the Overseas Territories. It is part of a wider assessment of the UK’s various diplomatic missions in the EU since Brexit and aims to assess how the new diplomatic missions are working and how effective they are in achieving the UK’s strategic objectives.
The report warned of “a lack of transparency regarding the mission’s tasks and overall costs.” […] And the work it did.” He pointed to the UK’s diplomatic cooperation with the EU Diplomatic Service, the European External Action Service, and the European Union Defense Cooperation Agreement, known as PESCO.
The report stated that the British mission spends about 20 to 25 percent of its time on issues unrelated to the implementation of the United Kingdom Withdrawal Agreement or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Brussels, including foreign policy and defense.
“This work is not readily recognised, and we recommend that UKMis define more clearly where the work of a non-withdrawal agreement, such as PESCO, fits within the rest of its work,” MPs said.
[Bearbeitet von Alice Taylor/Kjeld Neubert]
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