Michel Barniers negotiating stance torn to shreds: He is proud of it!
Michel Barnier discusses the state of politics in Europe
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Since Britain and the EU struck the free trade agreement at the end of December last year, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been anything but quiet. In February, Mr Barnier launched a group called Patriot and European to gather like-minded lawmakers. He told France Info at the time: “I have a number of ideas and proposals to make, on all issues, including the authority of the State, decentralisation and environment-friendly growth.”
Moreover, in an interview with weekly magazine Le Point at the end of April, the eurocrat hinted at a 2022 run for the French presidency.
However, he said he would make clear his presidential intentions “in the autumn”.
Mr Barnier was speaking ahead of the release book “My Secret Brexit Diary: The Great Illusion” – his long-waited account of the Brexit negotiations.
As the English translation is due to be published by the Polity Press at the end of September, British historian Robert Tombs has analysed Mr Barnier’s behind-the-scenes insight into the negotiations.
Mr Tombs argued his book is how Mr Barnier wishes the world to see him and that he he represents the epitome of a French negotiator.
He wrote: “He comes across as a giant among (British) pygmies: always calm and courteous, always in command of the situation, always consistent, always reasonable, resolved ‘to avoid any form of aggression, emotion or passion.’
“Just the man for the job and (perhaps we are meant to conclude) just the man for an even bigger job in future. Perhaps he really was like this.
“Perhaps, as Queen Victoria said of Mr Gladstone, he does address his interlocutors as if they were a public meeting.”
Mr Tombs insisted that if so, he was, to an almost caricatural degree, “the epitome of a French negotiator”.
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He explained: “The French do not see negotiation as bargaining, but carrying out a logical pre-determined programme; they insist on the sanctity of texts; they do not try to understand the other side’s point of view; they do not seek a mutually acceptable compromise; they do not think too far ahead into the future relationship.
“This is the impression that Barnier’s diary gives over and over again.
“He is proud of it: it is the intellectually and morally superior position.
“As he frequently repeats as a kind of mantra, it was Britain that decided to leave the EU, and so the EU has no responsibility for finding solutions to ensuing problems.”
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk last month, National Rally leader Marine Le Pen ridiculed Mr Barnier’s possible presidential bid, arguing the French politician is simply an EU spokesman.
She said: “Michel Barnier thought he could imagine himself for a moment as a possible presidential candidate.
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“It must be noted that his return to the French scene did not arouse any enthusiasm from his own political family.
“But above all, Michel Barnier is no longer seen as a French politician, but as the spokesman of a European Union which is very unpopular in France.
“In a country which voted “Non” to the European constitution in 2005, I believe his candidacy has little chance of success.”
French MEP Philippe Olivier, who also serves as special adviser to Ms Le Pen also claimed Mr Barnier does not stand a chance.
He added: “Michel Barnier is not even French.
“He is a Europeanist, but not French.
“He is all the more ridiculous because he thinks that maybe because he has achieved something on a European level this would qualify him to represent something for France.
“He thinks the EU can send a governor here, but he doesn’t realise French people don’t want it.
“French people showed that in 2005 when they voted against the EU constitution in a referendum.”
Mr Olivier added: “In France, presidential elections are a contract between a candidate and the people of France.
“It is a bit like voting for a Queen or a King.
“It is evident that a person who has been sent by an international organisation stands absolutely no chance.”
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