The European Commission has appointed Michael Barnier, former agriculture minister of France, to lead the Commission in talks with the UK over its EU exit strategy.
President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has appointed Michel Barnier, former vice-president of the European Commission and former French Minister of Agriculture, as chief negotiator in charge of leading the Commission for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the UK under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Barnier will report directly to Juncker and will be advised by a group of directors-general dealing with the issues relevant to the negotiations.
Barnier will commence his duties on 1 October 2016.
Special advisor on European defence and security policy to the European Commission president since 2015, Barnier also held the position of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of France between 2007 and 2009.
Mr Barnier has visited Ireland and is well known to many present and former Irish politicians including MEPs
He was also Minister for Foreign Affairs between 2004 and 2005.
Barnier said he was “honoured” to be entrusted with this task.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has welcomed the appointment of Barnier as chief negotiator for Brexit on behalf of the Commission. According to the ICSA president, the appointment is a welcome development for Ireland in view of the fact that he is very familiar with the issues relevant to Ireland from his positions as EU Commissioner, as a Minister for Agriculture and as an MEP.
“Mr Barnier has visited Ireland and is well known to many present and former Irish politicians including MEPs,” Kent said.
“It is also significant that a French negotiator has been appointed in view of the positive Brexit meeting held between our Taoiseach and the French president recently. It was clear that President Hollande acknowledges the special issues for Ireland arising from Brexit. ICSA believes that the Irish government must ensure that it is closely involved in ensuring that Ireland’s interests are kept to the fore in all negotiations because the terms of a Brexit deal will be so critical.”