Michel Barnier is quickly becoming a pantomime villain in the UK, with his regular grandstanding and puerile PR stunts. But a lot of British commentators still give him far too much credit - we can only guess they haven't looked into the wreckage of his political career.
(Photograph courtesy of Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle)
Barnier's track record, described below, is marked by wacky EU-federalist ideas which have been his undoing on several occasions.
From his less-than-subtle effort to force the EU Constitution onto all of us through to the range of smaller proposals for EU power-grabs, which resulted in criticism, rebukes and a dismissal.
The Brexit talks show that he might never learn from these errors.
Despite having absolutely no elected mandate in his current role, he is stuck in the EU Commission mindset and trying to boss Britain around.
Any eurosceptic would have known that EU intransigence would soon surface in spite of David Davis's efforts to create an amicable and respectful exchange of views.
We highlight eight of his career low points here:
1. As French Minister for Foreign Affairs...
...he helped write the despised EU Constitution, a massive EU power-grab, that was trashed and rejected by French voters in a referendum and later in a Dutch referendum.
2. Sacked as French foreign minister...
...because his EU Constitution campaign was so roundly trashed in the French referendum. He later complained he was "unfairly singled out" for the referendum defeat, but he still didn't learn his lesson as the next items shows.
3. As French nominee to rewrite the failed EU constitution...
...he was asked to produce a new document to replace the constitution alongside other panellists. An unrepentant Barnier and his colleagues instead produced virtually the same list of power-grabs in the controversial and hated Lisbon Treaty. Co-writer Valéry Giscard d'Estaing confirmed it was "substantially the same as the EU Constitution".
4. As EU Commissioner for Regions...
...he oversaw the EU regional funding team which proposed a much-criticised funding project of more than EUR 60 million to the Spanish enclave of Melilla including millions spent on a luxury golf course next to a refugee fence and refugee reception centre. Although he oversaw the team which wrote the funding proposal and gave the initial approval, final approval to the criticised scheme was by his successor Jacques Barrot.
Description of funding:
2004 revised decision:
5. As adviser to José Manuel Barroso...
When asked to look into civil emergency response, he was ridiculed for his proposals for an EU Civil Protection Force which turned into an obvious power-grab for the EU Commission. He is credited with invented the phrase 'the cost of non-Europe' and his civil protection paper includes the bizarre phrase: "As the tsunami so tragically bears out, the price of non-Europe in crisis management is too high". He was also a Barroso adviser when Barroso made his famous gaffe, "the EU is our empire".
6. As EU commissioner for the internal market...
He was criticised repeatedly over: Solvency II insurance regulation; EU Commission power-grabs; toothless bank reform proposals; and half-baked banking reform proposals. He was also criticised by the UK Government for his banking reform proposals and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers' Directive which was especially punitive to the UK financial services industry.
Slammed over the Solvency II legislation process
Criticised for toothless proposals
Criticised for half-baked banking reform proposals:
Criticised by UK gov for his first draft of banking reform
Faced Uk gov criticism over AIFMD
7. As defence adviser to Juncker...
He helped create the concept of the European Defence Fund and the European Defence Action Plan. From 2015 to his appointment as EU Commission Brexit negotiator he helped plan the EU's defence powergrab which was eventually rolled out in a legislative onslaught at the EU Council between November 2016 and June 2017.
8. As co-president of the Albertville Olympic Committee...
...saw the event costs escalate to more than double its intended budget. UK analysts later found the event suffered a cost overrun of a whopping 137%.
Flyvbjerg, Bent; Stewart, Allison; Budzier, Alexander (2016). The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Oxford: Saïd Business School Working Papers (Oxford: University of Oxford). pp. 9–13. SSRN 2804554 Freely accessible.