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Engel Leads House Dems in Demanding Answers on EU Diplomatic Downgrade

ENGEL LEADS HOUSE DEMS IN DEMANDING ANSWERS ON EU DIPLOMATIC DOWNGRADE

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today led House Democrats in denouncing the State Department’s recent downgrade of the European Union’s diplomatic status. In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, the Members demanded information on the decision and decried the message this action sends to our allies and partners in Europe.

“At a time when the Trump Administration is seeking to win trade concessions from the EU, build consensus to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, counter widespread international Chinese cyber theft and trade cheating, and maintain sanctions on Russia for a range of malign actions, showing disrespect to our closest partners reduces the influence and credibility of the United States. NATO and the EU are the cornerstones of the transatlantic relationship, based in our common values and a shared vision for Europe, and should be treated as such,” the Members wrote.

The letter was signed by: Rep. Eliot L. Engel (NY), Rep. William R. Keating (MA), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY), Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (PA), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (NY), Rep. Brad Sherman (CA), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (VA), Rep. Ted W. Lieu (CA), Rep. Dina Titus (NV), Rep. Robin L. Kelly (IL), Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (FL), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL), Rep. José E. Serrano (NY), Rep. James P. McGovern (MA), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN), Rep. Grace Meng (NY), Rep. Ron Kind (WI), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL), Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA), Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH), Rep. Jim Costa (CA), Rep. David Cicilline (RI), and Rep. Elaine Luria (VA).

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are deeply troubled by recent public reports that the State Department and the Office of the Chief of Protocol have downgraded the diplomatic status of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.  Disturbingly, this step, which appears to have taken place late last year, occurred without Congressional consultation or apparent notification to the European Union.  The European Union and its predecessor organizations have maintained a growing diplomatic presence in Washington for over six decades.  Notably, European Union member countries themselves have delegated substantial authority to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to represent EU interests with other countries, including the United States. 

Both the substance of this decision and the undiplomatic way in which it was carried out needlessly denigrate transatlantic relations. The European Union is one of the largest customers for U.S. exports and a significant source of job-creating foreign investment into our country. At a time when the Trump Administration is seeking to win trade concessions from the EU, build consensus to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, counter widespread international Chinese cyber theft and trade cheating, and maintain sanctions on Russia for a range of malign actions, showing disrespect to our closest partners reduces the influence and credibility of the United States. NATO and the EU are the cornerstones of the transatlantic relationship, based in our common values and a shared vision for Europe, and should be treated as such.

To that end, we respectfully request your response to the following questions:

1.      Why was Congress not consulted about this decision given its important role in foreign affairs?

2.      When was the decision to downgrade diplomatic relations made?  When was it was formally communicated to the European Union? 

3.      Why was this decision made and how was it reviewed and approved within the Administration? 

4.      Exactly how does this decision to downgrade our diplomatic relationship with the EU strengthen the United States?

Most importantly, we are concerned that this decision does not advance the interests of the United States and is in fact counterproductive.  We ought to support and strengthen our allies, not turn them into foes. Insulting them for no apparent reason does not typically encourage them to take a warmer view of the United States. 

We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter by January 30, 2019.