Brexit: Barnier warns of ‘feelings of not being protected’
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The Frenchman said he had accomplished his mission after more than four years of negotiations Britain’s divorce from the Brussels project. He oversaw both the wrangling over the UK’s departure and future relation on behalf of the EU27. But Mr Barnier has now stepped down from his role and his specialist team of eurocrats has been disbanded.
In a parting message, the bloc’s former haggler said: “More than four years of hard work and two incredible teams.
“Mission accomplished: ensure orderly Brexit, defend EU and new relations with the UK.
“Each and every person was outstanding. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Many challenges ahead.”
Mr Barnier will stay on as a special adviser on UK-EU relations to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
But the day-to-day wrangling over the future relationship pact and divorce deal will be left to Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.
The Slovak diplomat will be Brexit minister Lord Frost’s opposite number on the Joint Committee and Partnership Council that oversee both deals.
Praise was heaped on Mr Barnier for his role in the Brexit negotiations with Britain.
German MEP Bernd Lange, chairman of the EU Parliament’s trade committee, said: “Thank you for your dedication, your support and the outstanding cooperation.”
His countryman Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right bloc of MEPs, said: “We are grateful for your tireless work.
“Even in the most difficult circumstances, you always kept your calm and kept in mind the bigger picture, defending European and citizens’ interests.”
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Irish MP Neale Richmond said: “Best wishes to Michel Barnier and his excellent team, their service to Europe, especially Ireland, during the difficult Brexit process will never be forgotten.”
Mr Sefcovic and Lord Frost were said to be in “constant contact” over a number of EU-UK disputes.
The pair will have to settle a row over EU red tape, that has prevented British fishermen from exporting shellfish to the bloc.
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And trade tensions in Northern Ireland are still to be resolved despite numerous attempts to find a solution.
The feud over the region risks erupting unless Brussels moves to ease trade disruption between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
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