Monday

25th Mar 2019

Brexit talks will be 'tough', says EU negotiator

  • Barnier: the EU and the UK "will remain in a community of interests" (Photo: European Commission)

The British vote to leave the EU is a consequence of Europe's "ultra-liberal drift" and talks to make it happen will be "tough", the European Commission’s Brexit negotiator has said.

"If Brits have a reputation of having good negotiators, Europe may have too," Michel Barnier said in an interview to French daily Ouest France published on Tuesday (13 September)


Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Barnier, a former internal market and services EU commissioner, held many talks with British authorities when he reformed the rules for financial markets, including the City of London.

At the time, he told Ouest France, he worked to "find compromises, obtain [Britain's] agreement". Now, he said, "we are in a different state of mind."

He said however that in the long term, the EU and the UK "will remain … in a community of interests." He also said that they must have "strong bilateral cooperation" as regards stability and security.


Barnier, who will start on 1 October as the commission's "chief negotiator in charge of the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU", said that "there will be no negotiations" until the EU treaty clause on leaving the EU is triggered by the British government.

He did not answer whether the so-called Norwegian model - an access to the EU's single market with some obligations - could be applied to the UK, but he said that the "Icelandic, Swiss or Canadian models also deserve our attention".

The Brexit vote, he said, "reflects the ultra-liberal drift of the EU."

"Citizens feel they are not listened to in Europe," he added, saying that "EU leaders from all leanings have let the economy be finance-driven”.

"In Europe, there are above all citizens, not only consumers," he said. "Europe must prove again its added value for the citizens: protection, security, borders, research and innovation, solidarity."


"Many Britons voted against globalisation, while Europe must precisely help mastering it," he went on.

He said that, as a liberal, he thought that "liberalism requires rules, governance, morality and ethics.”

As for the EU itself, he said, it is "not a federation but a cooperative of nations. We work together but we do not merge."

UK ratification

In London, Brexit minister David Davis said on Tuesday that the government would not trigger Article 50 before his ministry is fully staffed and prepared.


"It's a very big process. There's a lot of work going on," he told a parliamentary committee.

Davis also said that there was "no doubt" that the British parliament would have to ratify part of the legislation that will be agreed with the EU to exit the bloc.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexiteers still hunting for a strategy

Ten weeks after British voters decided to leave the EU, the government has still no idea what to do, but at least Labour has finally found a position.

Brexit may not happen, EU top judge says

The EU's most senior judge has cast doubt on whether the UK will really leave the EU, while adding that it was never a fully-fledged member in the first place.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit: preparing for a bitter divorce

Conservatives Brexiteers and Labour leadership are increasingly leaning away from the Norwegian-style deal with the EU, towards a UK-specific arrangement.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Feature

'Swexit' off menu at election for first time in 24 years

The Swedish Left Party have abandoned euroscepticism to campaign on climate change - whilst the hard-right Sweden Democrats spy possibilities of a link up with Matteo Salvini of Italy and France's Marine Le Pen.

Opinion

Brexit vs Grexit: The six stages of losing to the EU

Theresa May's venture seems very similar to the attempt by Alexis Tsipras in 2015 to persuade Brussels to accept his terms for the bail out - a huge negotiation failure, presented to the public as the best possible deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us