Michel Barnier: European Commission Chief Brexit Negotiator

Michel Barnier: European Commission Chief Brexit Negotiator


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 served as France’s Minister for European Affairs and was briefly Foreign Minister as well. He has held portfolios in national and European politics covering, 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 already has a good idea of who he is up against in the negotiations. During his time as Minister for European Affairs in the 1990s, he already encountered UK Brexit Secretary David Davis, who at that time held the post of Europe Minister. At this point, it was already clear that the two men had very different visions for the EU.

Barnier officially began his work on 1 October 2016.

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