On 14 September 2016, the European Commission (Commission) announced that the Commission has set up a Task Force to plan preparations for, and the conduct of, the Commission’s Brexit negotiations once the UK triggers the Article 50 process. This follows the announcement on 27 July 2016 that Michael Barnier had been appointed by the Commission to lead its Brexit negotiations (see our related blog post here).

As head of the so-called Article 50 Task Force, Barnier will report directly to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and be supported by a team of experts, including Commission Directors-General whose departments deal with issues relevant to the negotiations. The Task Force will:

  • Be in charge of preparing and conducting Brexit negotiations with the UK, taking account of the framework for the UK’s future relationship with the EU;
  • Coordinate the Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to the Brexit negotiations; and
  • Be able to draw on policy support from all Commission services.

The Commission has further appointed Sabine Weyand, currently Deputy Director-General in the Commission’s trade directorate, as Deputy Chief Negotiator in the Brexit talks. Commission President Juncker was quoted as saying that the Task Force’s “deep knowledge and rich experience” would benefit Barnier in negotiations with the UK, adding that the team would live up to the challenge and help the EU “develop a new partnership with the UK after it will have left the EU”.