Michel Barnier says immigration should have '3 year suspension'
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The former EU chief negotiator said that from “day one after the EU membership referendum in 2016, Europeans alike know it could happen again in another country”. Speaking today, Mr Barnier also shed some light on his five years as the EU’s chief negotiator to the UK which led to the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Christmas Eve in 2020.
The French politician and diplomat claimed there were clear “lessons to be learned” on the resulting negotiations into the UK’s departure from the bloc.
Referring to ongoing row’s involving fishing rights and the Northern Ireland protocol, Mr Barnier claimed he found it “unworthy” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “questioning the arrangements” initially agreed on Christmas Eve.
Technical negotiations are currently ongoing for a new solution to the implementation of the Protocol which manages post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland as well as a new agreement for a longer-term solution on fishing rights.
Mr Barnier continued: “The British do not respect their signature when they question EU customs controls on goods leaving Britain to Northern Ireland.
“They should be careful because breaking their word can have serious consequences for their reputation and the trust placed in them.”
During the negotiations, Mr Barnier claimed there were three success factors for the EU.
He noted factor one as “transparency”, adding: “We considered that in these serious talks it was beneficial to keep everyone informed continuously and at the same time.”
Secondly, he said the EU were “masters of the clocks” and affirmed: “From the outset, we imposed the strict separation of negotiations around Brexit, on the one hand, and the terms of future collaborations, on the other.
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“The trap of the British, who are experienced diplomats, was to negotiate everything at the same time to obtain compensation between the subjects, to be accommodating on future cooperation in order to obtain advantages in the immediate divorce.
“For the Europeans, this would have been the guarantee of losing on both counts.”
Finally, he stressed the “stability of the negotiating team over time was decisive in maintaining a firm course, smoothly and easily” during the four and a half years of negotiations.
He added: “And this while maintaining a spirit of cooperation with our friends from across the Channel.
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“I believe that we have deserved the trust that the Europeans have placed in us.”
Looking ahead to the future for Europe, Mr Barnier said: “It is now time to think of us, of Europe, to avoid finding ourselves subcontractors or under the influence of the two giants of this world: the United States and China since unanimity was necessary to validate a treaty.”
His comments come as he unveiled plans for a political movement in a bid to bolster France’s centre-right chances of success in France’s upcoming presidential election.
Next April’s ballot is expected to be contested by President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, but the French politician is yet to declare whether he will put himself forward for the top job.
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