27th Oct 2016

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.


Iceland's not-so-quiet revolution

In the space of three years, Iceland's main parties have seen their vote decimated, and new parties may well take almost half the electorate in Saturday's election.

Belgians meet for fresh Canada talks

Negotiators made headway on Tuesday but failed to break the deadlock on the EU-Canada free-trade agreement, which is still blocked by Belgium's French-speaking entities.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  2. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  3. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  4. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  5. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  6. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  7. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  8. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  9. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  10. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  11. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  12. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum

Latest News

  1. Greece to probe UN allegations of illegal returns
  2. Poland defies EU on rule of law
  3. Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock
  4. Left MEPs thwarting Dieselgate probe, say right MEPs
  5. Cars should be allowed to exceed emissions limits, say experts
  6. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  7. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact
  8. Thousands of Nato soldiers go to Baltic states, Romania