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May 19, 2017

Who is negotiating Brexit for the European Union?

The European Union (EU) and the UK will begin the formal Brexit negotiations on 19 June.

On that date, which marks the start of the most important negotiations in the UK’s history, the two respective teams will meet to start the battle.

Whilst David Davis and Sir Tim Barrow are leading the UK’s side in the Brexit negotiations, who is heading up the EU side?

1. Michel Barnier                                          

French politician Barnier has been chosen by the European Commission to serve as its European chief negotiator for Brexit, his official title.

He was elected to the French National Assembly when he was 27 and since then has served as minister of the environment, secretary of state for European affairs, foreign minister and minister of agriculture.

He moved to European politics when working as special adviser to the then-European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso. He worked on the writing of the Treaty of Lisbon during 2006-07.

He is probably most known for his role as the single market commissioner from 2010-14, when he brought forward a number of initiatives for the financial sector, including a new banking union.

When Barnier’s new position was announced by the current president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker in 2016, he said:

I want an experienced politician for this difficult job.”

2. Sabine Weyand

Barnier named senior German trade official Weyand as part of his team to negotiate the EU. Her appointment, as the deputy chief negotiator, puts Paris and Berlin at the heart of the task force’s negotiations on Brexit.

Weyand has worked for the EU since 1994 when she worked for the director-general for Industry.

Since then she worked in the foreign relations department, as chief of staff for the commissioner for development aid and humanitarian aid, before becoming the director of policy coordination for secretariat-general at the European Commission in 2012.

One Brussels-based lobby group told the BBC that Wyand was unlikely to give much in trade talks on Britain’s access to the EU, particularly any weakening of the EU single market ideal of freedom of movement.

3. Donald Tusk

As president of the European Council, Tusk will be central to the EU’s negotiations on Brexit.

He will attempt to keep Europe’s leaders united as the negotiations begin.

Despite being a former Polish prime minister, Tusk is hated by the country’s nationalist government who tried to unseat him from his presidential position earlier this year.

Just last week, Tusk was in the UK to discuss the Brexit negotiations with the UK prime minister Theresa May.

An EU source told the Independent that the two leaders decided to stay in regular contact during the Brexit process, in order to “keep a constructive approach and seek to lower tensions that may arise”.

4. Didier Seeuws

Seeuws has been named the European Council’s special taskforce chief negotiator.

According to Whitehouse Consulting, the European Commission saw this as an attempt of the Council to make a power grab in the Brexit negotiations.

Seeuws is a Belgian diplomat and former chief of staff to previous Council president Hervan Van Rompuy, during 2011-14.

As well as this, he was the Belgian permanent representative to the EU and was appointed as director of transport, telecommunications and energy by the EU council president, Donald Tusk.

5. Guy Verhofstadt

The third branch of the EU, the European Parliament, has chosen its chief negotiator in the form of Verhofstadt.

He has served three times as his native Belgian’s prime minister and has been an MEP since 2009.

Nigel Farage has often debated with Verhofstadt and took to Twitter to say:

“Guy Verhofstadt hates everything we stand for, which should mean a much shorter renegotiation.

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