EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has today announced the appointment of more than two dozen new Ambassadors who will serve under the blue and gold flag of the European Union rather than their national colors. However, she should be keeping a closer eye on her existing corps. Having been outmaneuvered by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso in the appointment of his friend, João Vale de Almeida to the post of EU Ambassador to the United States, it is nevertheless still her responsibility to keep Almeida in line.
His public letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger demanding a stay of execution for convicted rapist and murderer Albert Greenwood Brown goes far beyond the acceptable limits of diplomatic exchange; it represents an unconscionable interference in the sovereign affairs of the State of California. Almeida states: “any miscarriage of justice…represents an irreparable loss of human life,” even though California has a rigorous appeals process and as robust a justice system as any in the world.
This smug moral posturing is all the more galling considering the EU’s own appalling record on civil liberties. Daniel Hannan, a British Member of the European Parliament recently highlighted the case of British holidaymaker Andrew Symeou, who was arrested under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and extradited from Britain to Greece. The EAW—falsely sold as a vital counter-terrorist measure—means no prima facie evidence is needed to deport one ‘EU citizen’ to another EU country; at the stroke of a pen, British citizens are being whisked away to Greece, France or any other member state of the European Union. From April 2009-April 2010, 1,032 Britons– almost three a day–were extradited on EU orders. In Andrew’s case, an almost-certainly innocent man languished in the notorious Korydallos prison for 11 months (having been denied bail on grounds of having no local address), with the case still hanging over his head more than three years later.
It is not the job of the European Union to take the United States to task for its sovereign policies on judicial matter. It certainly isn’t the job of the Ambassador of the European Union to defend a convicted American citizen. And it is worth noting that in a recent poll, 51% of Britons supported reinstating the death penalty for murder. This EU-elitism explains why less than half of Europeans now think that their country’s membership of the EU is good thing—hitting a seven year low for Brussels. Lady Ashton and Ambassador Almeida should take note.