Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom
Michel Barnier is the man picked by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to lead the EU’s Brexit negotiations. Barnier is the EU’s most senior Brexit negotiator and will play a crucial role in deciding what the 27-nation bloc is willing to concede in divorce talks.
He has warned against Britain walking from negotiations with no deal, saying it is “not what we want.” He is often painted as an anti-British political insider from the French establishment. In January 2018 he declared that the UK could not enact any new trade deals during its transition period leaving the EU without the political and economic union’s say so.
Although it may seem like Barnier is a provocative choice from Juncker, he might prove a more open negotiator than the UK might think at first glance. Juncker was quoted by the FT as saying “I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job” and Barnier certainly fits that bill. He has held several ministerial roles within the French government as well as within the European Commission.