Brussels – Former EU Commissioner and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is currently causing a lot of irritation in Brussels: Barnier, who wants to run as the Republican candidate against the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron, demanded at a party event in Nimes that France must “maintain its legal sovereignty “Bring back” from the EU “in order to no longer be subject to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights”. The 70-year-old Barnier, who worked more or less his entire career in politics and spent a large part of it in EU services in Brussels, has so far been considered a staunch pro-EU man. As chief negotiator for the UK’s exit, he defended the values of the EU with firmness and determination. This included defending EU law, where Barnier did not step back an iota from his position.
The fact that he had now apparently moved to the camp of EU opponents, as some Brussels colleagues speculate according to the magazine Politico, surprised many who know him: Barnier is considered to be principled and had previously given the impression of the principles for which he was fighting to believe too. It was all the more upset in Brussels when a Barnier tried to appease him and declared that Barnier’s statement only referred to migration policy. But it was precisely this “cherry picking” that Barnier refused to give the British.
However, Barnier is allowed to pursue a completely different calculation: Marine Le Pen has the historic chance to take power in Paris with her right-wing extremists. The hairs of the establishments in Brussels and Paris are already on end. The situation is so serious that Barnier has adopted a right-wing populist argument to prevent the shift to the right. Nobody believes that he believes it himself. Damage is still being done: The EU must currently give everything to keep its line of struggle against Poland and Hungary. Here Barnier’s statements should have been received with satisfaction, recycling in the national context is foreseeable.