European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has appointed former European Commissioner Michel Barnier to lead the European Union’s negotiations with the United Kingdom over its departure from the bloc. Mr Barnier’s official title will be “chief negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom“.

Mr Barnier will formally take up the role opposite the UK’s Brexit minister David Davis on 1 October 2016, although British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the negotiations will most likely not begin until early next year (for further detail please see our earlier blog post “Theresa May: Brexit negotiations won’t start in 2016, UK will seek freedom of movement controlshere).

The Frenchman is a former vice president of the European Commission. Mr Barnier was also previously Brussels’ commissioner for Internal Market and Services from 2010-2014, a position in which he was responsible for the EU’s financial-services regulation.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr Juncker said in a statement released today 27 July 2016 “Michel is a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations, namely as Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Agriculture, and as Member of the Commission, in charge of Regional Policy, Institutional Reforms and of Internal Market and Services“.