Coronavirus: EU negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive

EU chief Brexit negotiator tweets that he is ‘doing well and in good spirits’

The European Union's chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, says he has tested positive for Covid-19. Video: Michel Barnier/Reuters

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has tested positive for coronavirus and his team is following instructions, the Frenchman announced in a video message on social media on Thursday.

“In this serious crisis that is affecting the entire world... I wanted to tell you personally that yesterday I tested positive for Covid-19,” the 69-year-old French politician said. “I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.”

“Each one of us has a role to play for all, to win this collective battle, this war against the virus,” Mr Barnier added.

In a Twitter post, Mr Barnier said he was “doing well and in good spirits”.


Mr Barnier’s announcement prompted well wishes from a range of leaders.

“Take care my friend,” Tánaiste Simon Coveney wrote in response to Mr Barnier’s announcement. “Wishing you and all your team a speedy recovery. “#wearewithyou” wrote Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee.

“Good luck, and take care of yourself! A speedy recovery,” said Sabine Weyand, director general of EU trade and a prominent force in the Brexit negotiations.

It was announced on Tuesday that Brexit negotiations due to take place this week would be delayed, the first of several rounds that had been scheduled to alternate between Brussels and London before May. There were discussions of replacing the talks with video conferencing, but this did not go ahead.

The government of prime minister Boris Johnson has insisted that Britain’s current transition period will not be delayed past December 31sgt of this year. If no deal on the future relationship is agreed, Britain will automatically begin trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms from January 1st, 2021, a change that would likely cause significant damage to the Irish economy. Britain has until July to request an extension.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times