Trump administration quietly snubs EU diplomats in U.S., officials say

Its pride has been dealt a blow, however, by the realisation that the Donald Trump administration in the United States has downgraded its diplomatic status without notice - something it only realised when its so-called "ambassador" stopped being invited to certain important events.

The US state department's order of precedence says the head of an global organisation "should be considered equivalent to a chief of state or head of government, but should be listed in precedence order, after all official representatives of the sovereign nations present".

Speaking to German broadcaster DW, the source added: "We don't exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us".

A spokesman for the EU's foreign affairs service said on Tuesday: "We are now discussing with the relevant services the possible".

The change in protocol for a close U.S. ally means the bloc's Washington-based diplomats are less likely to be invited to high-profile events and have a lower importance than under former president Barack Obama.

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FILE - European Union Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager speaks during a news conference at the EU Delegation in Washington, Sept. 19, 2016.

"They have told us that they forgot to notify us and that this is a decision they have taken because that is apparently what the chief of protocol thinks is the proper thing to do".

The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the change in protocol, citing the partial government shutdown-now in its 18th day-and limited communications staff. The diplomats also have a lower importance level as compared to those who served under former President Barack Obama's administration. "Normally protocol tweaks are made in the first few months of a new administration, not two years in", he said. One said it was unlikely for the European Union to retaliate. It became completely obvious, according to the source, when he was named last at the funeral of former US President George H.W. Bush in December, which didn't correspond to his earlier diplomatic status. He criticized "bureaucrats" for believing multilateralism is "an end in itself", and cast doubt on the EU's commitment to its citizens. That drew a sharp rebuke from the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm. "Soap opera politics: U.S. downgrades EU mission in DC in a petty Trump move", tweeted Carl Bildt of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former Swedish prime minister.

Talks between Washington and Brussels were sidelined around the end of past year because of the U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Trade tensions between Brussels and Washington have flared since Trump imposed tariffs on European aluminum and steel imports.

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