Michel Bernard Barnier (born 9 January 1951) is a French politician and EU official serving as European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union since December 2016.
He has served in several French cabinet positions such as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2005, Minister of State for European Affairs from 1995 to 1997, and Minister of the Environment and Way of Life from 1993 to 1995. He also served at European level as European Commissioner for Regional Policy (1999–2004) and European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services (2010–2014); he also was vice president of the European People's Party from 2010 to 2015.
Barnier was appointed Minister for Agriculture in the French government on 18 June 2007, stepping down on 7 June 2009 upon his election as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). He served as European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services under Barroso.
The European Commission has appointed him as its chief negotiator in charge of the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).
Early life and education
Barnier served on the staff of various Gaullist ministers in the 1970s, before being elected in 1978, aged 27, to the French National Assembly as Deputy for the Department of Savoie representing the neo-Gaullists, Rally for the Republic (RPR), serving until 1993.
Barnier first joined the French Cabinet as Minister of the Environment following the Right's landslide victory in the 1993 legislative election. In 1995, Jacques Chirac appointed him Secretary of State for European Affairs, serving as such until the defeat of the presidential majority in the 1997 legislative election. Barnier then served as a European Commissioner for Regional Policy in the Prodi Commission from 1999 until 31 March 2004. Then he served as Foreign Minister of France in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government until 5 June 2005 when Dominique de Villepin replaced him with Philippe Douste-Blazy. He considered he was unjustly sanctioned for the victory of the "No" in the French referendum over the European Constitution.
In March 2006, Barnier was elected vice president of the European People's Party (EPP) for a three-year term. Under Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, upon the reshuffle of the French cabinet, caused by the resignation of Alain Juppé after the 2007 French legislative election, he re-joined the French Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture.
In 2016, the French investigating judge Sabine Kheris requested that the case be referred to the Court of Justice of the Republic Michel Barnier, Dominique de Villepin and Michèle Alliot-Marie. These former ministers are suspected of having allowed the exfiltration of the mercenaries responsible for the attack on the Bouaké camp in 2004, killing nine French soldiers. The operation was allegedly intended to justify a response operation against the Laurent Gbagbo government in the context of the 2004 crisis in Ivory Coast.
Barnier worked in 2006 as a special adviser to José Manuel Barroso, the then President of the European Commission, and presented a report to the Council of Ministers proposing the creation of a European civil-protection force. In 2006–2007, he served as member of the Amato Group, a group of high-level European politicians unofficially working on rewriting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe into what became known as the Treaty of Lisbon following its rejection by French and Dutch voters.
Barnier led the UMP list in Ile-de-France for the 2009 European Parliament election. In February 2010 he was confirmed as European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. In charge of European banking system reform, he argues for a "coherent single market with intelligent rules that apply everywhere".
He was twice appointed Acting Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship in Antonio Tajani's stead, from 19 April 2014 to 25 May 2014 while he was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and from 1 July 2014 to 16 July 2014 after he took up his seat.
As European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Barnier handled many important issues, such as the reform of the financial sector (40 pieces of legislation between 2010 and 2014), the banking union (starting with the Single Supervisory Mechanism) and the digital single market.
On 27 July 2016, he was announced as the European Commission's chief negotiator with the United Kingdom over leaving the European Union, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Commenting on the appointment, Juncker said: "I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job."
In January 2019, following the Brady amendment vote in the UK House of Commons, Michel Barnier said the Irish backstop is "part and parcel" of the UK's Brexit withdrawal agreement and will not be renegotiated.
Barnier said to France's RTL radio: "Time is too short to find an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop and Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union will not be re-opened for negotiation. We ourselves talked of so-called alternative arrangements which could prevent the return of a hard border. Only, no one, on either side, was able to say what arrangement would be needed to ensure controls on goods, animals and merchandise, without having a border. We have neither the time, nor the technologies."
Barnier said he hoped that UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s meeting with opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn might produce new ideas. He said the EU was prepared to re-write the Political Declaration which provides the outline for a future trade deal.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries 2007–2009
Minister of Foreign Affairs 2004–2005
Minister of European Affairs 1995–1997
Minister of the Environment 1993–1995
Member of European Parliament 2009–2010 (resignation)
National Assembly of France
Senate of France
- International Olympic Committee (IOC), Member of the Sustainability and Legacy Commission
- Friends of Europe, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Germany : Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2010)
- Portugal : Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry (17 January 2019)
- "VIe législature Michel Barnier". assemblee-nationale.fr.
- "Xe législature Michel Barnier". assemblee-nationale.fr.
- "European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – President Juncker appoints Michel Barnier as Chief Negotiator in charge of the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU". europa.eu.
- "Commission sets up Brexit 'taskforce'". euobserver.com.
- Barnier as special adviser European Voice, February 19, 2015.
- "Michel Barnier to take over internal market portfolio". Euobserver. 27 November 2009.
- Philip Aldrick (30 November 2009). "Michel Barnier looks to calm City nerves about reform". The Telegraph. London.
- "Summary of Hearing of Michel Barnier". European Parliament. 13 January 2010. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
- Castle, Stephen (12 July 2013). "European Union Offers Berlin Compromise on Bank Proposal". The New York Times.
- "Six commissioners head for EU election campaign trail".
- "KUNA – Barroso announces caretaker replacements following resignation of 4 EU Commissioners". kuna.net.kw. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- Five years of laying the foundations of new growth in Europe (PDF). European Commission. 2014.
- Special Advisers to the President, Vice-Presidents and Commissioners of the European Commission European Commission.
- Simon Taylor (March 9, 2015), European Commission special advisers European Voice.
- Khan, Mehreen (27 July 2016). "Michel Barnier appointed as Juncker's Brexit chief". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- "EU rejects calls to reopen Brexit deal". 30 January 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "EU's Barnier says time too short for alternatives to Irish backstop". 31 January 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019 – via uk.Reuters.com.
- Sustainability and Legacy Commission International Olympic Committee (IOC).
- Board of Trustees Friends of Europe.
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- Michel Barnier – Head of EU Commission Taskforce for Brexit
- Personal Website at the European Commission (2010–2014)
Yves-Thibault de Silguy
| French European Commissioner
Served alongside: Pascal Lamy
| European Commissioner for Regional Policy|
Dominique de Villepin
| Minister of Foreign Affairs
| French European Commissioner
| European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
as European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
as European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union