Portugal's Joao Vale de Almeida is expected to be appointed the new European Union ambassador to Washington under the bloc's revamped foreign service, EU sources said on Tuesday.
The posting would be one of the first high-profile appointments made since the Lisbon treaty came into force in December, creating a fully fledged diplomatic service that the EU hopes will increase its clout in the world.
The appointment is expected to be approved during a meeting of the European Commission on Wednesday, the sources said.
The naming of an ambassador to Washington is one of the most sensitive appointments, with the EU seeking to maintain good relations with the United States while avoiding embarrassments such as President Barack Obama's decision this month to pull out of an EU-US summit scheduled for Madrid in May.
Vale de Almeida, 53, is director-general for external relations in the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, and a former head of staff for Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, also from Portugal.
As ambassador he will report to Britain's Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, who was appointed by EU leaders last year to serve as the top diplomat for the EU's 500 million citizens.
Vale de Almeida will replace former Irish prime minister John Bruton, who finished his posting as the EU's head of delegation in Washington at the end of last year.
An EU external affairs spokesman would not confirm the appointment, saying the decision was up to the Commission.
Vale de Almeida, who trained as a journalist in France and the United States, has acted as Barroso's representative in the preparation of G8 and G20 summits and served as deputy chief spokesman for the Commission in the mid-1990s.
Since he took over as director-general for external relations in June last year, Vale de Almeida has been responsible for shaping the EU's foreign affairs policy and overseeing the 120 or so delegates the EU has abroad.
ReutersLast Mod: 16 Şubat 2010, 22:37