Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

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)


Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Barnier: UK risks undermining trust in Brexit talks

A day before UK PM Theresa May sets out her Brexit strategy in Florence, top EU negotiator Michel Barnier told lawmakers in Rome: there can be no transitional deal for the UK without a withdrawal agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  2. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  3. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  4. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  5. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  6. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea
  7. Tusk calls 'euro summit' in December
  8. Report: May to seek two-year EU transition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  2. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  3. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  5. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  6. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  9. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  10. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  11. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  12. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies