Today, the Commission decided to set up a Task Force for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU (“Article 50 Task Force”).
This follows the appointment, on 27 July 2016, by President Juncker of Michel Barnier as Chief Negotiator in charge of those negotiations and of the new Task Force. As Head of the Article 50 Task Force, Michel Barnier will report directly to the President and will be supported by a team of the best Commission experts. He will also be advised by a group of Directors-General dealing with the issues relevant to the negotiations. The Article 50 Task Force will be in charge of preparing and conducting the negotiations with the UK, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the European Union.
The Task Force will coordinate the Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to these negotiations. It will be able to draw on policy support from all Commission services. Also today, the Commission decided to appoint Ms Sabine Weyand, currently Deputy Director-General in the Commission’s trade department (DG TRADE), as Deputy Chief Negotiator as of 1 October 2016. Ms Weyand, a German national, brings a lot of relevant experience to her new assignment.
In her current position, Ms Weyand covers inter alia WTO matters, trade defence, TTIP and neighbourhood policy. Prior to that she was in charge of policy coordination in the Commission’s Secretariat-General. She also was Member of Cabinet of Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Head of Cabinet of Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel.
President Juncker said: “This new Task Force will be composed of the Commission’s best and brightest. They will help Michel Barnier to conduct the negotiations with the United Kingdom effectively, benefiting from the deep knowledge and rich experience available across the whole Commission. Together, Michel and his team will live up to this new challenge and help us to develop a new partnership with the United Kingdom after it will have left the European Union.”
The Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States as well as the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission held an Informal Meeting in Brussels on 29 June 2016 following the Referendum of 23 June in the United Kingdom. They agreed on the need to organise the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in an orderly fashion.
Article 50 of the TEU provides the legal basis for this process.
Full Statement of the Informal Meeting at 27, of 29 June 2016.
In line with the principle of ‘no negotiation without notification’, the task of the Chief Negotiator in the coming months will be to prepare the ground internally for the work ahead. Once the Article 50 process is triggered, he will take the necessary formal contacts with the UK authorities. Michel Barnier, as Chief Negotiator, will be ranked at the Director-General level and will take up his duties as of 1 October 2016.