Michel Barnier, The chief Brexit negotiator of the European Union, has put himself out of the running to serve as the centre-right’s candidate to take the place of Jean-Claude Juncker who will be stepping down as the president of the European Commission.
The announcement of Barnier puts an end to a protracted period of speculation that suggested that he would be throwing his hat into the ring for the role of Spitzenkandidat in the European People’s Party.
On Twitter, the French politician posted a letter stating his decision to stay out of the race to the president of the EPP, Joseph Dall. He said that he wanted to stay and finish the Brexit talks.
He tweeted: “I have decided today not to run for the nomination as the EPP’s European elections lead candidate.”
He added: “It is my duty and responsibility to continue the #Brexit negotiations right to the end.”
He continued: “We are in the final stretch of a serious and complex negotiation on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom. It is my duty to remain engaged with all my energy and determination.”
In the letter, Barnier also added in a handwritten segment that he continues to be committed to what he believed were the values of the European Union.
He stated: “Of course, I will remain committed in the future and available to defend our values and renew the European project together.”
The sole candidate who has announced his interest in the EPP’s nomination is the leader of the party in the European Parliament since 2014, Manfred Weber.
However, he probably will not be the only candidate who will be competing for the position, with Alexander Stubb, the former Finnish Prime Minister, also rumoured to be considering a run.
The said group is highly influential within Brussels. The nominee of the continental party is also expected to be a leading contender for the position, which is arguably the most powerful position in Brussels.
The news was released as something of a disappointment to various high profile politicians of Brussels, who have praised the performance of Barnier as Brexit chief. Earlier last week, Les Républicains, France’s main centre-right party, had publicly declared that they wanted Barnier to be the nominee.
The new president will be taking over the European Commission in November 2019.