Why has Donald Trump still not named a US ambassador to the EU?

President Donald Trump has been condemned for failing to fill the vacant post of US ambassador to the EU.

Donald Trump | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

19 Feb 2018


The post, like an estimated one third of overseas diplomatic posts, is still vacant well over a year since the last ambassador left his job.

The situation was castigated by Denis MacShane, a former UK Europe minister, who told this website, “Trump, like President Putin, can’t handle the EU. Instead, he prefers bi-lateral relations so having an EU ambassador is low on his priority. “

German S&D group MEP 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 for the chaos reigning in Trump's administration, and shows his disrespect towards the European Union."


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Further comment comes from Elliott Abrams, a US diplomat and political scientist who served in foreign policy positions for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Abrams, who has since joined the Council on Foreign Relations, said that as many as 30 per cent of US ambassadorial jobs around the world, including the EU, were still unfilled after Trump took office.

He said, “This is a big mistake. You can forgive it if say six months had elapsed but 12 months? You cannot leave so many important posts vacant for so long.”

Both Belgium and the EU remain without an American ambassador, more than 12 months after Trump was sworn into office.

On 20 January last year, three ambassadors based in Brussels - to Belgium, Nato and the EU - left their jobs. Trump appointed a new US ambassador to Nato in August - former

US senator Kay Bailey Hutchison - but the other two positions remain unfilled.

A source at the US embassy in Brussels said, “There is no standard deadline for the appointment of a new ambassador. The decision remains at the discretion of the president.”

The appointment must be confirmed by the US Senate but is not always guaranteed. The source said that although there is no US ambassador, diplomatic relations continue between the two countries, overseen by Matthew Lussenhop, chargé d’affaires.

However, the chargé d'affaires does not have the political and diplomatic weight of an ambassador.

Last June, the Trump administration announced that businesswoman and attorney Jamie McCourt, a former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, would become the new US ambassador to Belgium, but in August McCourt was posted to Paris instead.

 

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