Tuesday

17th Jan 2017

Juncker names former rival as Brexit negotiator

  • French poltiician Michel Barnier will be chief negotiator for the Brexit negotiations (Photo: European Commission)

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker appointed former French commissioner for financial services as chief negotiator in charge of negotiations with the UK.

Michel Barnier, a 65-year old former French minister and vice-president in the previous Commission between 2010-14, was in charge of the internal market and services.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He sought the job of EU Commission president in 2014, but the task was later given to Juncker, his rival in the conservative European People's Party.

Barnier said in a tweet that he was “honoured to be entrusted” with the post.

He added: "Rendez-vous for beginning of demanding task on 1 October."

His official title will be "chief negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom" under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The UK has not yet triggered the exit procedure under Article 50, and British prime minister Theresa May suggested it is unlikely the UK will launch the process before the end of the year.

Michel Barnier will report directly to Juncker and will have a team of experts at his disposal.

He will be regularly invited to the the meeting of the commissioners to brief the college on the negotiations.

Juncker said he wanted "an experienced politician for this difficult job", adding: "Michel is a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas."

Most of the negotiations are nevertheless expected to be done by the council, representing member states.

They will have to navigate through the difficult two-year negotiations and find a balance between the UK's access to the single market in exchange for some level of freedom of movement from and within the bloc.

Barnier's France has been urging for a tough exit deal for Britain, as French president Francois Hollande faces challenge ahead of next year's presidential elections from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who wants France to hold a referendum on its membership.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey