Barnier leaves Commission in French government reshuffle

Jacques Barrot is to take Michel Barnier’s seat at the Commission after the new Raffarin government was announced on 31 March. Barnier is the third Commissioner to leave Brussels for national politics this year.

The leader of the UMP party in the French National Assembly,Jacques Barrot, is to replace Michel Barnier as regional Commissioner after Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced his new government on Wednesday 31 March.

Barnieris to replaceDominique de Villepinat the Foreign Affairs Ministry while Mr Villepin has been named for the top job at the Interior Ministry formerly occupied byNicolas Sarkozywho has been promoted to a beefed-up Economics and Finance ministry.

After his appointment, Mr Barnier said he was “at a turning point” for the two areas within his responsibility (cohesion and regional policy). “Becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs of France is not the breaking off but rather a continuation of my career and political commitment,” he said in a statement. “Europe will naturally remain at the heart of my attention in this new role, which will also lead me to deal with many other aspects of international relations,” he added.

Michel Barnier is the third Commissioner to leave Brussels for national politics this year after Greece’s Diamantopoulou and Spain’s Solbes announced their departure (see EURACTIV,

10 March 2004and25 March 2004).

Rumours of a government restructuring had swept through France following the results of the regional elections on Sunday 4 April. The polls delivered a crushing defeat for President Chirac’s ruling right-wing party UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire), effectively calling for a restructuring of the increasingly unpopular Raffarin government.


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