Two thoughts spring to mind when you consider the appointment of João Vale de Almeida, a Portuguese Eurocrat, as the European Union’s next ambassador to the US. The first is that the EU seems to be retreating from its experiment of placing a political heavyweight in Washington to speak up for Europe. John Bruton, the EU’s outgoing envoy, is a former Irish prime minister whose face was well-known in the White House and on Capitol Hill when he got the job in 2004.
Vale de Almeida is familiar to certain US officials – he has been the European Commission’s top liaison man for G8 and G20 meetings. But as a civil servant who started his career with the Commission in Lisbon back in 1982, he has never been elected to office, has never served as a government minister and altogether lacks the profile of someone like Bruton. Americans are already struggling to recall which two figures were chosen last year as the EU’s first full-time president and new head of foreign policy. Now they have a third obscure European name to remember. Read more