EU appoints ex-financial services commissioner chief Brexit negotiator

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The European Commission has appointed former financial services commissioner Michel Barnier as its chief negotiator as the UK withdraws from the European Union.

Barnier served as European commissioner in charge of internal market and services from 2010 to 2014 and held the financial services portfolio, before Jonathan Hill took over.

In a statement, Jean-Claude Juncker said Barnier, who he described as a friend, had extensive contacts in the capitals of all EU member states.

“I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job. Michel is a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations, namely as Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Agriculture, and as Member of the Commission, in charge of Regional Policy, Institutional Reforms and of Internal Market and Services.”

The European Commission said Barnier’s task in the coming months would be to “prepare the ground internally” as it emphasised there would be no negotiations before the UK triggered Article 50.

Barnier starts the role on 1 October.

Earlier this month, prime minster Theresa May appointed David Davis as the UK’s Brexit minister.

Jonathan Hill resigned as the European Commissioner for financial services following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. He has been replaced by Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis.