Tuesday

21st Nov 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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 must come up with Ireland solution

EU Brexit negotiator tells UK to come up with solutions to the Irish border issue and prepare to include a level playing field in its future trade deal with the EU, if it is to be ratified by member states.

News in Brief

  1. European Banking Authority will move to Paris
  2. EU court threatens daily fine over Polish forest logging
  3. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  5. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  6. Schulz calls for new German elections
  7. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  8. EU adopts new border check rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  2. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  3. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  4. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  5. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  7. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  8. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  9. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  12. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017