Michel Barnier, former vice-president of the European Commission (EC) and former French minister, has been appointed chief negotiator in charge of leading the commission taskforce for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the UK under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (EU).

Barnier, who was appointed by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker, is known in the accountancy world for instigating back in 2010 the EU audit reform which came into force in June of this year.

“Michel [Barnier] will have access to all Commission resources necessary to perform his tasks. He will report directly to me, and I will invite him to brief regularly the College to keep my team abreast of the negotiations. I am sure that he 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," Juncker said.

Explaining the appointment the president of the EC said Barnier was a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations. “He has an extensive network of contacts in the capitals of all EU Member States and in the European Parliament, which I consider a valuable asset for this function,” Juncker said.