Irishman appointed EU ambassador to Washington

Trade agreement likely to dominate David O’Sullivan's four-year post.

Irishman David O’Sullivan will be announced as the European Union (EU) ambassador to the United States next week.

O’Sullivan, a senior official within the EU, is to be named by Catherine Ashton, an EU high representative, as the new EU ambassador to Washington. The Irish Times have reported that this announcement will be made on Tuesday.

The Irishman will take up a four-year position in Washington, in September. Currently he serves as the chief operating officer of the EU’s foreign affairs wing, the European External Action Service (EEAS).

O’Sullivan will replace, former Portuguese EU official, Joao Vale de Almeida, as ambassador.

In the coming years negotiations between the EU and the US on a trade agreement are likely to dominate transatlantic relations. Also the crisis in Ukraine has pushed the question of EU-US co-operation to the forefront, particularly the role of NATO.

O'Sullivan studied economics and sociology at Trinity College Dublin. He continued his studies in Bruge, Belgium and earned a postgraduate Certificate of Advanced European Studies. He speaks English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese.

He worked at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs until 1979 when he entered the European Commission.

He moved swiftly up the ranks and became secretary general of the European Commission under Romano Prodi. In late 2005 he stepped down as the EU’s highest-ranking civil servant and took the position as director general of the European Commission’s trade division.

Following the establishment of the European External Action Service, under the Lisbon Treaty, O’Sullivan became its chief operating officer.