Vade-mecum for the use of the diplomatic corps accredited to the European Union and to the European Atomic Energy Community

Table of contents

I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
1.
The Diplomatic Corps accredited to the European Union and to the European Atomic Energy Community comprises all Heads of Diplomatic Missions duly accredited and members of the diplomatic staff of their Missions.
REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF THE APPOINTMENT OF A HEAD OF MISSION
1.
Requests for approval of the appointment of the Head of a Diplomatic Mission are submitted by verbal note to the Protocol Service of the Commission. The note is accompanied by the candidate's curriculum vitae set out on unheaded paper.
2.
The request for approval is sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the accrediting country either directly or through the Mission accredited to the European Union.
3.
The procedure, which implies the approval from the Commission, the Council, the European External Action Service and the authorities of the Member States of the European Union, generally takes eight weeks.
4.
Once the European Union has given its approval, the Commission's Protocol Service sends a verbal note to this effect to the Mission concerned or, via the Mission, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the accrediting country.
5.
On receiving official notification of approval, the Government of the accrediting State may publish the appointment of its Head of Mission.
ARRIVAL OF THE APPOINTED HEAD OF MISSION
1.
Arrival
The arrival in Brussels of the appointed Head of Mission of a Third Country is a private affair at which the European Union does not need to be officially represented.
2.
Initial contact, first visit and request for audience
a.
Before presenting his credentials, the appointed Head of Mission pays a courtesy visit to the Head of Protocol of the Commission and hands over the true copies of his letters of credence for the Commission and for the Council and of his predecessor's letters of recall.

The Head of Protocol informs him of the appointment arranged for the official audience with the President of the Commission, at which he will hand over his letters of credence and his predecessor's letters of recall. He communicates to him all details concerning this audience. The Head of Protocol further suggests to the appointed Head of Mission to contact the services of the President of the Council, in order to receive the corresponding information.
b.
He may also call on the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, who will acquaint him with local procedures and obligations towards his colleagues.
c.
Any other calls he may wish to make before he officially presents his credentials will be of an unofficial nature. In any case, the Ambassador designate must not establish contacts on a political level or with the media.
3.
Passes
a.
Heads of Mission are issued passes to spare them from administrative formalities at the entrances to Commission buildings.

When calling on the Head of Protocol, the appointed Head of Mission brings with him two passport-size photographs, needed for the pass. The pass will in principle be given to him when he presents his credentials to the President of the Commission.
PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS
1.
The letters of credence of the Heads of Mission of a Third Country must be signed by the Head of State.

Two identical originals of the letters must be drawn up, one for the President of the European Council, the other for the President of the European Commission, each of whom receives the Head of Mission separately.
2.
On the day he presents his credentials, the appointed Head of Mission proceeds by his own means to the headquarters of the Council, or to the headquarters of the Commission, where he is each time received by its President. On either occasion, he may be accompanied by one or two members of his Mission.

No speeches are made during the presentation.

The Head of Mission hands over his predecessor's letter of recall at the same time as he presents his credentials.

For the presentation, either a dark suit or national costume should be worn.

A photo report is made of the presentation to the President of the European Commission.

The Press Service of the Commission publishes a press release.
AFTER THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS
1.
The Head of Mission informs all other Heads of Mission that he is taking up his duties.
2.
The Head of Mission informs the Presidents of the other institutions of the European Union and the Permanent Representatives of the Member States that he is taking up his duties and proposes to pay a visit at their earliest convenience.
SENIORITY AND PRECEDENCE
1.
The Papal Nuncio is the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the European Union.
2.
The accredited Ambassador of longest standing assists the Doyen as Vice-Doyen and replaces him in his absence.
3.
Where circumstances so require, the Doyen - or, in his absence, the Vice-Doyen - represents the Diplomatic Corps. With the agreement of his colleagues, he may also act as spokesman for the entire Corps.
4.
Precedence among other Heads of Mission of the same rank is determined by their seniority, i.e. the date and time of presentation of their credentials.

Unless otherwise specified, precedence among diplomatic staff of the same rank from different Missions is determined by the date on which the verbal note informing that diplomatic staff members appointed by the Government take up their duties is sent.
5.
Precedence among diplomatic staff within any one Mission is determined by that Mission.
6.
The Commission's Protocol Service should be consulted on matters relating to the respective precedence of EU-authorities and officials.
7.
Where a member of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the European Union receives Heads of Missions of different Diplomatic Corps, the Ambassadors accredited to the European Union have precedence over the other Heads of Mission.
8.
Where a member of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the European Union plays host to EU and national dignitaries and Heads of Mission of Third Countries, it is customary for these dignitaries to be alternated with the Ambassadors.
9.
Any doubt over precedence should be referred to the Commission's Protocol Service.
MISSION STAFF
1.
The names of Mission staff with recognised diplomatic status along with those of their spouses are entered in the official list of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the European Union, which is published by the Commission.
2.
The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs extends diplomatic immunities and privileges to diplomatic agents and any members of their families living with them and who do not practise any gainful professional or commercial activity.
3.
The Mission should notify the Commission's Protocol Service by verbal note each time a member of the diplomatic staff appointed by the government takes up his post or relinquishes his duties at the Mission. Unless otherwise specified, the official starting date for such staff is deemed to be that on which the verbal note is sent.
4.
In order to obtain identity cards and other official documents required by diplomatic staff, their spouses and children as well as CD vehicle registration plates, the Head of Mission sends a written request together with the relevant documents directly to the Protocol Service of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
5.
The list of the Diplomatic Corps does not include non-diplomatic Mission staff employed in administrative or technical posts, members of their family living with them or members of the Mission's domestic staff.

If these staff are not of Belgian nationality or were not permanently resident in Belgium beforehand, the immunities and privileges specified in the Vienna Convention are extended to them along with any other privileges granted on a reciprocal basis.

The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is notified of their arrival and final departure. A copy is sent to the Commission's Protocol Service for information.
ABSENCE OF THE HEAD OF MISSION
1.
Before absenting himself from his post for more than four weeks, the Head of Mission notifies the Commission's Protocol Service and all other Missions in writing, specifying the name and rank of the official designated as Chargé d'Affaires a.i.

He notifies the above bodies on his return.
2.
Should a Head of Mission absent himself for less than four weeks, he needs to inform only the Commission's Protocol Service and the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, stating how long he will be away and the name and rank of the official designated as Chargé d'Affaires a.i.
DEPARTURE OF THE HEAD OF MISSION
1.
When a Head of Mission is recalled by his Government, he notifies the Commission's Protocol Service and all his colleagues, stating the name and rank of the official designated as Chargé d'Affaires a.i.
2.
Before leaving his post, the Head of Mission sends farewell letters to the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission and calls on the Member of the Commission responsible for relations with the State he has been representing and the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps.
FLAGS
1.
As is customary, Diplomatic Missions accredited to the European Union fly their national flag over their chancellery building and, if they so wish, over the residence of their Head of Mission, on 9 May, Europe Day.

Missions in Brussels also fly their flag on the following dates:
 
21 July: Belgian national day
 
15 November: Feest van de Dynastie/Fête de la Dynastie
 
The national flag may also be flown for special ceremonies and other specific reasons.
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