Watch out, Macron! Barnier confirms return to French politics once ‘released’ from EU role

Brexit: Michel Barnier outlines ‘four pillars’ of deal

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Ahead of next year’s French Presidential elections, Mr Barnier told the Senate today he will soon return to take part in “the political debate”. Although the influential negotiator has not confirmed his desire to run in the election, he told French politicians they only a “few more weeks” for him to return to the political debate. In a worrying sign for the current French President, Mr Barnier claimed he will return once MEPs ratify the Brexit deal.

In a speech to the Senate he said: “You will not have to wait much, if I may say so, because as soon as I am released from my European responsibilities, I will resume my part, with determination, in the French political debate.”

MEPs have not yet fully ratified the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, even though it was signed in December.

While Mr Barnier claimed he will be released from his duties in a few weeks, MEPs sought a two-month extension to the ratify the deal.

In order to provisionally approve the deal, EU states applied the deal before the turn of the year but set the deadline of February 28 to formally approve the agreement.

Given the nature of the deal, MEPs this month used a legislative procedure to extend that deadline to April 30.

It is thought the delay has been caused by the need to translate the document into the 24 official languages.

Although it has been agreed between the two sides, the UK’s negotiator Lord David Frost labelled the delay as disappointing.

He said this month: “We have heard informally from the commission today that we are likely to get a formal request to extend the two-month period that is in the treaty for ratification on the EU side.

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“We wait to see what that request constitutes and how long they wish to extend the process for.

“Obviously, it is a little disappointing given that we did discuss this only a month ago.”

While the full ratification process is still ongoing in the EU, there have been issues due to the changes to trade in Northern Ireland.

Due to the added customs checks for businesses, Northern Irish officials have called on the EU to show some flexibility to aid trade.


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In Stormont, the DUP has not only called on the EU to show flexibility but to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol.

The protocol was created to ease trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU.

However, officials in Northern Ireland have claimed it has left the country isolated from the rest of the UK.

Some officials in Northern Ireland have called on the UK to adopt a similar agreement to what the EU has with Switzerland.

DUP MP Diane Dodds, declared she would not stand for any regulatory alignment with the EU but insisted she was not against a similar agreement.

She added: “I’m not against anything that will bring any short-term relief.

“And I’m not against a Swiss-style deal in and of itself.”

The agreement between the EU and Switzerland avoids health checks on animal and plant products as the latter aligns its own regulations with Brussels.

Maria Ortega contributed to this report.

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