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Brexit. British diplomats deprived of badges, cafeteria and influence

(B2) In Brussels, in the European district, there will be no transitional period, Brexit will be effective immediately, for all British diplomats

The British representation in Brussels is displaying the European flag on Friday for a few more hours (© NGV / B2)

The flag lowered on the permanent representation

From midnight on Friday, the European flag will be lowered in front of the permanent representation of the United Kingdom to the European Union. A discreet hovel, nestled above the Byblos 1898 café, a stone's throw from the Schuman roundabout, Europe's strategic point in Brussels. This will also change its name, becoming a simple 'mission' to the European Union (as for any third country).

The badge deactivated, a world is dying

For several dozen citizens of His Royal Majesty who work there, it is more than a symbol. This withdrawal has a very specific reality. From Monday, the small white plastic badge with the European flag, which until now served as their gateway to entering European buildings day and night, will be deactivated. They will no longer be able to come and go as they please, in particular at Justus Lipsius, the mother house of the Member States of the Union, seat of the Council of the EU.

Private meetings, and computer access…

From Monday, they will be persona non grata at all the meetings, ministers as well as ambassadors or some 150 groups of experts who, laboriously, every week, develop the European doctrine. They can only be there by invitation. And even " exceptionally » was confirmed to me. No question of seeing them come back through the window even though they slammed the door with a loud bang. “ This is the very logic of Brexit. Tomorrow, the United Kingdom will no longer be part of the European Union. It becomes a third country », says a local expert. They will no longer be able to access the internal system where agendas, preparatory documents for meetings, texts submitted to the vote, etc. circulate. They will thus be deprived of information, the vital commodity of Brussels plants.

… cafeteria

They will no longer even be allowed to go up to the cafeteria on the fifth floor (the '50' in Brussels jargon), reserved for 'diplomats' and others. happy few. One of the essential places of Brussels diplomacy. They will no longer be able to hold secret meetings in the corridors, or even to meet, unexpectedly, journalists at the press bar to do a work of conviction. In a word, they are no longer part of the club and will lose a good part of their influence.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)


Geographic proximity

The British, however, maintain a significant advantage. Of all the EU members, they were those who were physically closest to the institutions. Irony of history. It only took them a few steps and a minute to get to the venue at the EU Council or the European Diplomatic Service (EEAS), three minutes to go to the European Commission or Europa building, seat of the European Council. A proximity which will be even more useful than before for them to meet diplomats from the other 27 member countries which remain in the Union.


Extended and completed version of the paper published this morning in Sud Ouest

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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