The European Union has dropped its recognition of Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president after he lost his position as head of its parliament.
Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief, referred to him in his latest statement as one of the "political and civil society actors striving to bring back democracy to Venezuela", after controversial incumbent Nicolás Maduro took control of the Venezuelan National Assembly at last December's disputed elections.
But the European Commission explained that it was a decision taken collectively by EU governments.
"This is a text agreed and adopted by 27 EU member states," commission spokesman Peter Stano said.
"So the text is capturing the position of the EU and the position of the EU is saying that we consider Juan Guaidó and the members of the last democratically elected institution, which is the outgoing National Assembly, as particularly relevant interlocutors with whom we will continue working."
According to one of the European Parliament's Vice President, Dita Charanzová, this is a decision that many MEPs regret, as the institution has always shown clear support for Guaidó.
"I do not know why Mr. Borrell made such a statement," Charanzová told Euronews. "For me what is crystal clear is that the European Union must continue to support democratic forces in Venezuela and continue to recognise Juan Guaidó as the legitimate representative of Venezuela."
The UK and US still recognise Guaido as Venezuela's leader after the disputed 2018 re-election of Maduro.
Borrell's statement is much more forceful, however, when it comes to the new National Assembly. It rejects its legitimacy, since it considers the last elections in December as "undemocratic".
Maduro’s allies swept legislative elections last month boycotted by the opposition and denounced as a sham by the US, the European Union and several other foreign governments. While the vote was marred by anemically low turnout, it nonetheless seemed to relegate into irrelevancy the US-backed opposition led by lawmaker Guaidó.
Exactly a year ago, Guaidó, in a blue suit and tie, tried to scale a spiked iron fence to get past riot police blocking him from attending the parliament’s inaugural session, which according to the constitution must be held every year on Jan. 5.