Still no US ambassador to the EU

Jo Leinen has voiced surprise that the US has still not named a new ambassador to the EU.

EU flag | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

10 Oct 2017

The job still remains unfilled since Anthony Gardner left the job just before Christmas. Soon after leaving office, Gardner, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, was critical of the Trump administration.

Speaking to The Parliament Magazine on Tuesday, Jo Leinen said, “It is very unfortunate that Donald Trump has still not appointed a US ambassador to the EU. This is one more proof of the chaos reigning in Trump's administration, and shows his disrespect towards the European Union,” added the German Socialist MEP.

Ted Malloch, an academic and adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was touted as being in line for the Brussels post.

But Malloch was a controversial figure after he said Europe should “look for answers” among “nation states” and “not to a project of further integration”.

He also said people in other member states wanted to follow the UK in leaving the EU.

The academic, who has been the subject of particular criticism by Leinen in the past, was accused by the Financial Times newspaper of exaggerating his professional credentials.

His possible candidacy, which has never been formally confirmed by the White House, angered many in Brussels and, in a letter sent earlier this year by the leaders of the main parliamentary groups, Malloch was condemned for his "outrageous malevolence".

The letter, co-signed by the EPP and ALDE groups, said his appointment as US ambassador to the EU could seriously undermine transatlantic relations. The big political groups in the European Parliament also urged the European Commission and the Council of the EU to stymie his US ambassador ambition after he compared the EU to the Soviet Union in remarks in February.

Speaking to this website, Malloch declined to be drawn on whether he remained a candidate for the EU job.

He said, “I have nothing to say on this really. I still write on the topic and will be in the US again next week or so. Bu no one has been appointed yet.”

The Trump administration has lagged in naming ambassadors to some important posts, including the EU, and the Republican-controlled Senate has dragged in confirming those nominees who Trump has put forward, largely because of Democratic opposition.

In other cases, like Germany, the White House identified a candidate - Richard Grenell -but Trump did not made a nomination.

In August, Trump withdrew his nomination of Jamie McCourt, a campaign donor and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, to be ambassador to Belgium and resubmitted her name to the Senate to be envoy to France and Monaco instead.

However, Woody Johnson, a billionaire investor turned owner of a National Football League team, has been nominated by the president as the new US ambassador to Britain.

The Jets owner is a longstanding Republican who worked on Jeb Bush’s campaign for the party’s presidential nomination but switched to Trump’s a few months before last November’s election.

Trump recently said he intends to nominate former UN spokesman Richard Grenell as his country’s ambassador to Germany.

Grenell is a 50-year-old former Bush administration diplomatic aide and frequent commentator on Fox News.

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