French politician Michel Barnier to lead Brexit talks
Former EU commissioner and veteran French politician Michel Barnier has appointed to lead the negotiations with Britain on its exit from the European Union bloc. This was announced by European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.
“I am very glad that my friend Michel Barnier accepted this important and challenging task. I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job,” Juncker said in a statement.
“I am sure that he will live up to this new challenge and help us to develop a new partnership with the United Kingdom,” he said.
Britain became the first country to leave the EU following its June 23 vote to quit the 28-nation bloc. Following the shock result, France and the European Commission have led demands that negotiations of Britain’s exit should begin as soon as possible.
Barnier held the key financial services portfolio from 2010 to 2014, spearheading efforts to tame the eurozone debt crisis which nearly brought down the single currency project and put the banking system back on track.
He was also a key architect of the EU's new banking union, whose creation often put him at loggerheads with the City of London.
He previously served as EU commissioner for regional policy and had stints as both French foreign and agriculture minister.
Barnier tweeted he was “honoured” by the appointment, which he will take up on October 1.
New British Prime Minister Theresa May has said London will not be rushed into launching talks and mostly likely will begin the negotiations early next year.
- with AFP