Michel Barnier slammed by Farage over 'French sovereignty'
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Michel Barnier has shocked former EU colleges and left his friends astounded over his recent anti-EU comments. On Thursday the EU’s former Brexit negotiator suggested France needs a “constitutional shield” from the European law in order to control immigration.
Mr Barnier implied in a speech made at a Les Républicains event in Nîmes that EU law prevents France from controlling its migration.
Mr Barnier is currently running for the French presidency and appears to have abandoned his pro-EU stance in a bid to gain popularity with voters.
He said if he was elected he would propose a referendum on a “constitutional shield”.
This would enable France to sidestep European law and rulings when it comes to immigration.
Mr Barnier said France needed to take back control of its immigration.
He said a constitutional shield would allow France to regain “our freedom of manoeuvre and interpretation.”
He added: “We must regain our legal sovereignty in order to no longer be subjected to the judgements of the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.”
Mr Barnier later took to social media in a bid to make his remarks at the rally clearer.
He said he didn’t want France to be completely free of the European courts but instead wanted to create a “constitutional shield”.
Mr Barnier explained this would then give France more power when it comes to issues like immigration.
He tweeted: “Let us keep calm” and added he wants to “avoid any unnecessary controversy”.
The former European Commissioner’s comments seem at odds with the way he treated Britain during the Brexit negotiations.
Mr Barnier frequently lashed out at UK negotiators for wanting to “cherry-pick” the EU’s agreements.
Why are Mr Barnier’s comments so damaging for the EU?
Mr Barnier’s call for the EU’s power to be diminished could risk fragmenting the bloc.
Some member states are already calling for the power to disregard EU law in certain circumstances.
Mr Barnier’s latest comments give those countries fuel for their argument and undermines the sovereignty of EU law at the worst possible time for the bloc.
The European Commission is trying to defend the supremacy of EU law as it faces mounting pressure from the likes of Hungary, Poland and even Germany’s constitutional court.
Mr Barnier’s comments will likely be lapped up by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party which is pushing back against Brussels.
They argue EU member states should be allowed to ignore EU law in certain fields.
According to Julien Hoez from the European Liberal Forum, Mr Barnier’s stance appears to have backfired.
Far from gaining popularity among the French electorate, his comments may have destroyed his “legacy”.
Mr Hoez 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.”
Others were quick to point out the irony of Mr Barnier’s comments.
Clément Beaune, France’s junior minister for EU affairs, told Politico “One wonders how a sentence like that can come from such a committed European.”
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