EU snub as Michel Barnier ‘having a go at European jurisdictions’ in French presidency bid

Michel Barnier says Brexit could happen in other EU nations

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Mr Barnier, 70, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, threw his hat in the ring to become French President in August. The veteran French politician is seeking to oust the current President Emmanuel Macron at the election in April. First however, Mr Barnier must outrun his rival presidential candidates in the conservative Les Republicains (LR) party. The race for the nomination of a centre-right candidate to go up against Mr Macron is now heating up as LR’s six presidential hopefuls prepare to face off against one another next month.

It was announced this week that the first of four televised debates will take place on November 8.

Mr Barnier, who has been a strong advocate of the EU in the past, was initially derided by some commentators as he announced his candidacy.

However, his pledge to bring in a moratorium on non-EU migration into France and his call for his country to regain its “sovereignty” from the European courts appear to be winning over many in his party, according to recent polling.

Dr Paul Smith, an expert in French politics, told Express.co.uk that Mr Barnier is “having a go” at European jurisdictions.

The academic is Associate Professor in French History and Politics at the University of Nottingham.

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He said: “What Barnier is articulating is a desire to decide once and for all where ultimately decision-making lies.

“And where the decisions of the European Court on Human Rights, the European Court of Justice, would fit into the French system, and how they would be acted upon, or at what point France would be able to either reject or attenuate those decisions.

“That’s the complication of it.

“So, at one level it looks like suddenly Barnier is having a go at European jurisdictions.”

During his time negotiating Brexit for the EU, Mr Barnier was known for defending the bloc’s principle of freedom of movement.

However, he turned heads on both sides of the English Channel in September as he appeared to have adopted Eurosceptic views.

He told a rally in Nimes: “We must regain our legal sovereignty in order to no longer be subjected to the judgments of the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.”

He also repeated his call for a referendum on bringing in a five-year moratorium on immigration to France from outside the EU.

He said: “We will propose a referendum in September 2022 on the question of immigration.”

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However, Dr Smith stressed that Mr Barnier’s stance was “more subtle” than simply attacking the European Court of Justice and the European Court on Human Rights, the latter of which is not part of the EU.

He said: “The French legal system, like the British legal system, in fact has its own internal problems, question marks that it has to ask about where certain judgements fit in.

“Who has the ultimate decision-making within the legal process?

“And in Britain we can go back to Boris [Johnson’s] clash with the Supreme Court, we can look at the way in which many political figures in this country would like to do away with the Supreme Court.

“Similarly in France, there is a question of which court ultimately has the final say.

“In France there is a thing called the Council of State, there’s the Constitutional Council, there’s also the judicial system, plus the various European jurisdictions.

“The question of where ultimate decision-making lies is a complex one.”
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