BRUSSELS — Jovita Neliupšienė will be the next EU ambassador to the U.S., according to an internal note on appointments dated April 14 and obtained by POLITICO.
Neliupšienė, a deputy foreign minister of Lithuania and former ambassador to the EU, was selected over prominent contenders for the job such as former European Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr.
The decision comes as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen aims for closer ties with the U.S. administration, including generally on security and specifically on Ukraine policy. Neliupšienė, who is responsible for EU affairs in her current role, has been instrumental in making Kyiv’s case in Brussels — and in capitals across Europe.
The prestigious appointment, communicated via the note by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to EU ambassadors in Brussels, is part of a larger cycling through for diplomatic postings in countries from Angola to Zambia. It’s also seen as an opportunity for Borrell’s boss, von der Leyen, to leave her mark on the EU’s diplomatic representation around the globe.
The present EU ambassador to Washington — Greek diplomat and former Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis — will move to New York, according to the note. He becomes the EU’s ambassador to the United Nations (another post for which Selmayr was shortlisted).
As current deputy director general for the Commission’s EU enlargement negotiations, Katarina Mathernová brings rich experience to her new position as the EU’s next ambassador to Kyiv. It’s a further signal of support for Ukraine, which has been seeking to join the EU while facing the devastation of Russia’s war of aggression.
Mathernová, in turn, is already deeply plugged in with the Ukrainian leadership — an advantage for representing European interests in Kyiv.
Lambrinidis and his Swedish colleague at the U.N., Olof Skoog — as well as the current ambassador to Kyiv, Estonian diplomat Matti Maasikas — have been in office since 2019. According to standard EU practice, diplomats rotate out every four years. And two officials say it’s also standard practice that, barring any special agreements, new appointees take office in September.
Passed-over Selmayr is set to stay in his current role as head of the European Commission’s office in Austria, a role he took up after helming the EU executive’s massive civil service during Jean-Claude Juncker’s presidency. He also served as Juncker’s influential chief of staff for four years.
According to the EU’s own guidelines, ambassadors are appointed by the presidents of the Council and Commission, following the EU foreign policy chief’s proposal.
Borrell’s list includes new ambassadorial appointments for EU officials and new postings for diplomatic staff. It also sees some returning from being loaned to other international organizations — such as Alexandre Stutzmann, a former diplomatic adviser to the European Parliament presidents, who currently works for the U.N.
The new roster also has more hires from EU capitals: The German ambassador to Colombia, Marian Schuegraf, will become the EU representative to Brazil; while her colleague Friedrich Becker, currently representing his country in Iceland, will embark on the tricky EU mission as ambassador to Mali.
French diplomat Christophe Farnaud will take up his role as EU ambassador to Saudi Arabia while Nicola Orlando, the new EU ambassador to Libya, joins from the Italian foreign ministry.
The European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm, declined to comment for this story.