Michel Barnier admits fear of rising nationalism in EU after Brexit Have to be careful

Michel Barnier discusses the state of politics in Europe

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The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said he is “wary” about European Union member states leaving the trading bloc as a result of Brexit. He said Brussels needs to “be careful” about a feeling of exclusion across Europe. Asked whether he fears that other countries will ask to leave the EU, Mr Barnier told Euronews: “We have respected the will of a British majority who made this decision themselves on the 23rd of June 2016.

“I think the negotiations that were very long, were very transparent thanks to Jean-Claude Juncker.

“We discussed everything with everyone about every subject and we did this for four years.

“This is what created trust and it’s the key to the unity of the 27 member states.”

He added: “But I’m wary. I think we have to be careful because there is always the same nationalism, the same intention to break up the European Union.

“Mr Farage told me that he wanted to blow up the European Union.

“We don’t have to please Mr Farage, but there is also a popular feeling that has been expressed and that exists in many of our European countries, in many regions.

“It’s a feeling of exclusion, of having no future, no jobs, insufficient public services, poorly controlled immigration.

“All these popular feelings are not populism. It is a popular feeling that is deep-rooted.”

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It comes as Northern Ireland’s relationships with Great Britain and the Republic have been damaged by the Brexit protocol, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

In his first interview as leader, Sir Jeffrey called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recognise the protocol has harmed Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in the United Kingdom.

He said there will be “opportunities going forward” from the protocol, which grants Northern Ireland access to UK and EU markets, but they cannot be accessed yet because of “unnecessary barriers” created by the Irish Sea border.

He told Sky News on Sunday: “At the heart of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement are our three sets of relationships, and there’s a very delicate balance within that agreement as to how those relationships are managed.

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“One of the key relationships is that between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

“The agreement is very clear. The principle of consent protects the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their constitutional status.

“When you harm one of those relationships, you harm all of them by extension. That’s exactly what we’ve seen happening because our relationship with Great Britain has been harmed by this protocol.

“So too our relationship with the Republic of Ireland has been harmed, and indeed it has undermined and destabilised relationships within Northern Ireland itself.

“We’ve seen that even on our streets. So it is imperative for all of us that we resolve these issues.”

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