A politician with a wealth of experience in national and European politics, former French Minister and Commission Vice-President, Michel Barnier will lead the Commission’s Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK. The appointment was rather badly received within elements of the UK media, as Barnier is mostly remembered for his role as Single Market Commissioner (2010-2014), during which time he brought forward a number of legislative initiatives for the financial sector.
In his long political career Barnier has held portfolios in national and European politics covering foreign affairs, agriculture, regional policy, institutional reforms and internal market and services. He is very well connected, both in the Eurobubble and in national capitals and, given his past experience with the UK, his appointment by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was seen as a sign of firmness on the side of the EU.
Barnier officially began his work on 1 October 2016 and time will tell how much power his team will have, given the ongoing turf war between the Council and the Commission, with each insisting it should take the lead role in the negotiation process. The Council has already appointed Belgian Didier Seeuws as its lead negotiator. The Council has already agreed that, when the Article 50 process is triggered, it will adopt guidelines for the negotiations, with the Commission and the Parliament playing “their full role in accordance with the Treaties.”
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