Saturday

21st Jul 2018

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.

... our 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.

EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks

Further talks on the Irish border could continue next week as the EU is open to "any solution" that keeps the border invisible. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said key questions remain over the UK's white paper on a future partnership.

May avoids defeat in key Brexit bill

The British prime minister escaped defeat again in parliament, as EU governments question her ability to ratify any Brexit deal by Westminster.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us