Brexit: Barnier says EU will ‘always’ have strong ties with UK

Former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted the UK will continue to have strong ties to the European Union. However, while speaking to France24, he warned London that Ireland will get closer with the EU as there are no plans for the island to quit the bloc. Mr Barnier claimed the stronger alliance will manifest in terms of energy, transport and movement of goods.

Mr Barnier said: “There’s always going to be strong connections between the UK and the Continent.

“This is in terms of passengers transport, movements of goods, energy etc.

“But it’s clear that this Brexit, that we did not want, which we regret, but have accepted because it was a democratic decision by the majority of the British citizens, is going to lead a country who is a member state of the bloc and plans to continue being in it to be more closely linked to the continent.

“We are talking about energy and transport connections and it’s redistributions that are going to happen for freight as well.”

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This comes after Michel Barnier was handed an award via virtual ceremony for his role in defending Ireland’s interest throughout Brexit talks.

Mr Barnier received praise from both Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

Mr Martin said: “Over the past four years you have come to represent for so many of us see in Ireland all that is best about the European Union.

“Over the past four years, a very particular bond has been formed between you and the people in Ireland.

Michel Barnier presented award by European Movement Ireland

“That you are so well known is a reflection of the fact that from the beginning spared no effort to understand the unique and disproportionate challenges facing our island in the context of Brexit.”

Mr Barnier also reflected on the Brexit deal agreed with the UK and how the two countries’ relationship will develop.

He claimed he was able to accomplish the majority of goals set out by the member states, except for one crucial area that might need to be discussed in the future.

He said: “According to the mandate that the European leaders, the 27 heads of state and government and the European Parliament, had given me, we have done almost all of what was requested.

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“There is one thing that is missing in this partnership with the United Kingdom because the British did not want it.

“That is the chapter on foreign policy, defence, cooperation with developing countries, Africa in particular.

“They didn’t want to discuss this early on. I regret this.

“I didn’t understand it because it was sitting separate from commerce or homeland security, but it was important.”

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