Michel Barnier to run for French presidency

Photo: EPA Michel Barnier

Former EU commissioner and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier plans to run as French presidential candidate for the centre-right Republicans in next year's elections, he announced late on Thursday. "Challenging and serious times lie ahead of us," Barnier told the TF1 broadcaster. "I aspire to be the president of a reconciled France."

Barnier would initially have to prevail against internal competition to run as lead candidate for the party of former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, formerly called the Union for a Popular Movement. He had announced in December that he was drawn back to French politics.

The veteran politician and diplomat was put in charge of the European Commission's Brexit negotiations with London after Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016. In this role, he struck the Brexit deal that took effect in 2019, following seemingly endless negotiating rounds with his British counterparts.

In January he was appointed as special advisor to commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Before moving to Brussels, Barnier had been French foreign minister, among other things.

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