Thursday 22 August 2019

Brexit negotiator gets top trade role at EU Commission

European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the European Union Michel Barnier (L) and the EU deputy chief negotiator for Brexit Sabine Weyand. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images
European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the European Union Michel Barnier (L) and the EU deputy chief negotiator for Brexit Sabine Weyand. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Gabriela Baczynska and Philip Blenkinsop

The European Union's deputy Brexit negotiator, German Sabine Weyand, will switch jobs from June to lead the trade unit at the EU Commission in Brussels, meaning she'll be in the front line when talks with London switch from exiting the EU to hammering out a future relationship.

As the head of the European Commission's directorate general for trade, Ms Weyand would also oversee EU negotiations to strike a deal with the US, and help steer policy towards China. A veteran of the bloc's previous trade talks with the US and Canada, she has raised her profile significantly as Brexit negotiator since 2016.

While her boss, French Commissioner Michel Barnier, played a crucial political role, Ms Weyand was widely credited for being the ultimate expert on trade and other technical aspects of the Brexit deal, which the EU sealed with Britain last year but which the UK parliament has since rejected.

"Many trade policy achievements to build on, many challenges ahead," Ms Weyand (54) said on Twitter after her appointment from June 1 was announced on Wednesday.

Three years after Britons voted narrowly to leave the EU, the UK is mired in a spiralling political crisis, which has already ended Theresa May's premiership.

Meanwhile, in Brussels Mr Barnier (68) is tipped as a possible next Commission President.

Reuters

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