The European Commission on Wednesday appointed its past member and former French minister Michel Barnier to help negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU, as the bloc prepares for the difficult divorce.
Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has said Michel is a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations.
“I am sure that he will live up to this new challenge and help us to develop a new partnership with the UK,’’ Juncker said.
Barnier, 65, wrote on Twitter that he was honoured to be entrusted the UK negotiation, speaking of a demanding task.
“He will start as leader of the commission’s task force for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with Britain on Oct. 1,’’ Juncker added.
The EU has insisted that the exit talks with Britain would not start until London triggers Article 50 of the bloc’s treaty, which sets the rules for a negotiating process of no fewer than two years.
Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said that she does not intend to trigger Article 50 before the start of 2017, although she is under pressure from the EU to do so sooner.
“Until then, Barnier will prepare the ground internally for the work ahead, once Article 50 is triggered.
“He will take the necessary contacts with the UK authorities and all other EU and member state interlocutors,’’ the commission noted.
A report said that Barnier, a former French foreign minister, served in the commission from 2010 to 2014 as the EU’s market regulation commissioner. (dpa/NAN)