Trump offends Europe with diplomatic snub revealed at George H.W. Bush's funeral

  • President Donald Trump’s administration caused offence across the Atlantic with a surprise snub of the European Union’s ambassador to the US at George H.W. Bush’s funeral.
  • The Trump administration has downgraded the EU’s diplomatic status in Washington, meaning they’re no longer treated with the high regard Obama’s administration gave them and have been missing out on invitations to events.
  • The EU ambassador to the US figured this out when his name was called dead last to pay respects to former President George H.W. Bush at his December 5 funeral.
  • Trump has often gotten undiplomatic with Europe’s leaders or outright mocked them, and his State Department harshly criticised the bloc in December.

President Donald Trump’s administration caused offence across the Atlantic with a surprise snub of the European Union’s ambassador to the US at George H.W. Bush’s funeral in the latest perceived repudiation of former President Barack Obama’s cosy relationship with Brussels.

In late 2018 the EU’s diplomat to the US, David O’Sullivan, noticed something strange. After weeks of missing invitations for diplomatic events, O’Sullivan heard his name called dead last out of more than 150 diplomats to pay respects at Bush’s funeral on December 5, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

O’Sullivan’s name coming last represented an unannounced move from Trump’s administration to downgrade the EU’s diplomatic status in the US, which Obama had elevated to that of a nation-state, despite it being a multi-national organisation.

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“We don’t exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us,” an EU official told the German broadcaster. “I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels,” the person said, referring to the capital of Belgium and EU headquarters.

“This is clearly not simply a protocol issue, but this is something that has a very obvious political motive,” another diplomat told Deutsche Welle.

The Trump admin’s EU mockery

Trump has long clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, seen as the top EU leaders, with political disputes often taking on an informal or mocking tone.

Trump reportedly broke protocol by calling Merkel by her first name and mocked France’s World War II record in a rebuke of Macron.

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In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing speech in Brussels where he blasted multilateral organisations, such as the EU, UN, and others in the promotion of Trump’s “America first” philosophy while praising Brexit for questioning the commitment of the economic bloc to protecting its own citizens.

Trump’s pivot on the EU, the US’s biggest trading partner, contrasts starkly with Obama’s tight friendship with Merkel.

Obama’s administration, after a lengthy review, elevated the EU’s diplomatic status past other multi-national organisations such as the African Union, to that of a nation state.

“Whatever policy disagreements we may have with the US administration, we remain natural partners, natural friends, and our friendship with the US is here to stay,” Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokesperson, told news website Euractiv.

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