EU infighting boils over as diplomats' boss slams them as ‘slow’ and 'lazy'

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Josep Borrell has lashed out at EU diplomates for being slow and ineffective in a speech. The EU’s foreign policy chief bashed ambassadors who work for the EU’s external action service for being poor in their work regarding countries they operate in.

Mr Borrell told ambassadors: “This is not a moment when we are going to send flowers to all of you saying you… work very well and we are very happy.

“I do not want to blame and shame but this is something that I have to tell you. I want you to be more reactive, 24 hours a day.”

Mr Borrell also bemoaned the EU’s global diplomatic network as being less informative than reading newspapers, adding: “Sometimes, I knew more of what was happening somewhere by reading the newspapers than reading your reports.

“I should be the best-informed guy in the world. Behave as you would behave if you were an embassy: send a telegram, a cable, a mail – quickly. Quickly, please, react.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Borrell then accused the diplomats of lacking empathy and patronising counterparts in their host countries. 

He said: “We think that we know better what is in other people’s interests. We underestimate the role of emotions and the persisting appeal of identity politics.”

When addressing decisions taken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the foreign policy chief said the EU’s diplomatic service should “be ready to be bold”.

Mr Borrell added: “We break taboos on the war in Ukrainian, using the European Peace Facility to buy arms, something that at the beginning was claimed impossible.

“‘We have never done it before’ is not a recipe. Maybe you have to start doing things that you have never done in the past. When we hesitate, we will regret it.”

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A European Commission spokesman for Mr Borrell told the Daily Mail his speech was designed to “shake up the house”.

According to the Guardian, one diplomat in the room said some took offence to Mr Borrell’s remarks, but added: “I think [it] was well-received overall, for he spoke substance.”

Several EU delegation diplomats also told pan-European media outlet EURACTIV they are also frustrated with the way the home base in Brussels has been dealing with their reports, often not taking into account country expertise.

One diplomat told the outlet: “It has become a pattern that when a regional desk has been working on an EU strategy, they have not always taken into account fully the issues we have provided.”

It marks the latest incident of EU infighting, after president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola insisted an energy price had to be imposed on the bloc.

Arriving at the informal EU summit in Prague on Friday, Ms Metsola told reporters that the EU had to “remain united” on energy prices.

She said: “There is a need for an EU-wide price gas cap. The word cap means something different for different states.

“If some member-states need more time, or if they need to have possible exceptions, then we can give them but let’s not outbid each other.

“Member-states need to stop outbidding each other. We need to stop the price speculation.

“We have done this before during the Covid pandemic when we came together and found common solutions.”

Her comments followed outrage from within the bloc after Germany’s Olaf Scholz introduced a gas price cap, costing Berlin €200billion (£176.281billion).



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