Michel Barnier slammed by Farage over 'French sovereignty'
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The former EU Brexit negotiator said France should “no longer be subject to the rulings of the CJEU or the ECHR” in an unexpected blow to Brussels. Speaking at a debate with right-wing parties for the party primaries in the city of Nîmes to mark the start of the new parliamentary year, Mr Barnier also called for “rebuilding French influence” in the face of Germany’s “domination” in the EU.
The French Presidential candidate explained that regaining national sovereignty from EU courts would allow France to decide on its own immigration law.
The comments sparked outrage in France and across the bloc.
Emmanuel Macron’s closest ally, Clement Beaune said: “One wonders how a sentence like that can come from such a committed European.”
Julien Hoez from the European Liberal Forum said: “Michel Barnier is giving a masterclass on how to destroy your career and legacy in the desperate hope of looking electable to an electorate that just straight up dislikes you regardless.”
MEP Valerie Hayer from the Renew group said she was “dumbfounded”.
She added: “The primacy of European law is a foundation of our Union.
“If he wanted to destroy Europe, he wouldn’t go about it any differently.”
MEP David Cormand (Greens/EFA) tweeted that “the political and ideological decomposition of the two major political forces that have structured the French political landscape for decades is never-ending. It’s time to move on”.
And National Rally leader Marine Le Pen commented: “When I hear Mr Barnier come and talk to us about immigration, given his contribution to the disappearance of our independence and our sovereignty I must admit that my arms fall off.”
Responding to the outcry, Mr Barnier later tweeted: “Let’s stay calm! To avoid any unnecessary controversy and as I have always said very precisely, my proposal for a ‘constitutional shield’ will only apply to migration policy.”
The comments appeared particularly shocking as they suggest he would like to “cherry-pick” parts of EU laws and directives to disregard when it comes to France’s immigration policy – something he accused the UK of doing whilst he negotiated a Brexit deal for the EU.
Mr Barnier also warned: “French influence must be rebuilt.
“We must rebalance against the German influence which dominates.”
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To make things worse, officials told Politico that the former EU chief is still accepting his generous pension from the bloc.
Mr Barnier, 70, served as the European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2021, the head negotiator in the fractious pre-Brexit years.
A prominent French politician, his cabinet career and influence dates back to the 1990s.
After the UK officially left the EU, Mr Barnier was appointed as special adviser to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, overseeing the ratification of the Brexit agreement.
And now, he’s preparing to run for the presidency of France.
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