Praised over Brexit, Barnier might goal EU prime job

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders lavished their Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier with reward on Sunday for securing a divorce settlement with Britain, strengthening the Frenchman’s hand ought to he determine to run for the bloc’s prime job subsequent yr.

European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attends a news conference after the extraordinary EU leaders summit to finalise and formalise the Brexit settlement in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskatie had been amongst EU leaders assembly in Brussels to thank the 67-year-old.

In September, Barnier stated he wouldn’t search the nomination of the European Parliament’s largest celebration, the centre-right EPP, to change into the brand new head of the European Commission after Jean-Claude Juncker leaves subsequent yr.

The EPP has since picked Manfred Weber, a German ally of Merkel, however many EU diplomats and officers consider Barnier shouldn’t be out of the race.

“His Brexit job has allowed him to build his profile and credentials. Back then, the negotiations were still running and it was no time to jump ship. But we all know he is thinking about it and in the running,” one EU diplomat stated on Sunday.

Juncker, who additionally recommended Barnier for upholding the unity of the 27 states remaining within the EU by not letting Britain divide them, can be changed subsequent November.

His successor can be picked by the EU’s 27 nationwide leaders who might, however don’t have to, observe the European Parliament’s advice that can be made following the bloc-wide elections to the joint legislature subsequent May.

Weber’s socialist rival now’s Dutchman Frans Timmermans, at present a deputy to Juncker.

Barnier, a pro-EU conservative, has travelled extensively throughout the bloc for the reason that 2016 Brexit referendum, discovering time to fulfill even the smaller political gamers, labour unions and business lobbies.

Both Juncker and Barnier on Sunday additionally highlighted the position performed by the Brexit negotiator’s two prime aides – his deputy and veteran commerce negotiator, German Sabine Weyand, and France’s Stephanie Riso, an economist with years of service on the European Commission.


Throughout the method, Barnier has made some extent of exhibiting explicit respect for the European Parliament, which should additionally approve his Brexit deal for it to take impact earlier than Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.

While parliament could be upset in regards to the prime Commission job going to somebody it had not really useful, it could possible oppose Barnier’s candidacy much less vehemently than anybody else’s.

An even bigger headache for Barnier may very well be getting the backing of his native France, the place he wouldn’t be President Emmanuel Macron’s first selection.

Small indicators counsel Barnier may be keeping track of the job. Earlier in November, he travelled to Helsinki for the EPP congress regardless of not looking for the celebration’s advice.

In what appeared like a marketing campaign stunt in Brussels earlier this month, Barnier gave a broad two-hour speech on points from local weather change and electrical vehicles to combating populism and the problem posed for Europe by China and the United States beneath President Donald Trump.

As keynote speaker of a conservative, Catholic Belgian affiliation, he stuffed the principle concert corridor of Brussels’ effective arts centre. Outside of the room, his e-book titled “A European Choice”, was on sale.

“Barnier has definitely not ruled himself out. He’s been very good shaking hands all around the EU. We’ll see what happens next,” one other EU diplomat stated on Sunday.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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