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EU diplomats criticised for '

The European Union’s (EU) foreign service has met with censure from a British lobby group over its alleged £3.4 billion annual budget.

According to the Taxpayer’s Alliance, UK citizens are asked to fund diplomats that could promote an agenda in conflict with British national interests.

A new study by the pressure group found the EU’s External Relations programme has "quietly grown" over the last few years on a budget of EUR3.9 billion (£3.39 billion).

Dr Lee Rotherham, EU policy analyst at the alliance, said: "While the Foreign Office talks about the EU serving Britain’s needs, well-paid employees of Brussels are promoting a country called Europe around the globe."

The study notes expatriate European ambassadors earn up to £244,000 a year and points to a portfolio of embassy properties worth £55 million.

According to the External Relations website, the team holds regular meetings with representatives from locations including the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

While the meetings initially focused on trade, its remit has since broadened to include human rights and environmental issues, it adds.

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