Ireland snubs 33-years-old tradition in bid to reward Michel Barnier for Brexit work

Michel Barnier presented award by European Movement Ireland

Michel Barnier was named European of the Year Award by the European Movement Ireland. Other recipients included former Taoiseach Bernie Ahern and former European Parliament President Pat Cox. This year marked the first time in the award’s 33-year history that the recipient has not been an Irish citizen.

Vice President of the European Movement Ireland, Noelle O’Connell said: “Now, this is the first time we are awarding our European of the year award to somebody who is not an Irish citizen.

“He has promoted this greater engagement and connection among the countries and people of Europe.

“This is something Mr Barnier has pursued with great distinction and determination throughout his distinguished career.

“He has never wavered from his commitment to safeguarding, protecting and upholding the integrity of the European Union.

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“And indeed, Ireland’s place in it.”

Viewers of the ceremony took to social media to share their views on the European Union’s Chief Brexit Negotiator.

Irish MEP Frances Fitzgerald wrote: “Congratulations to @MichelBarnier who has just been awarded the ‘European of the Year’ by @emireland. 

“An extremely worthy winner-Ireland & Europe owe @MichelBarnier a great deal.

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“Grateful for his steadfastness, patience, skill and care for Ireland throughout his career.”

Another Twitter user said: “Listening to @MichelBarnier in the Q&A of the @emireland #EuropeanoftheYear Award.

“A fantastic recipient who says he feels a ‘little bit Irish’.

“As a bonus he is giving a master class in the art of negotiating – clear objectives, steady steps and leave emotions outside.”

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Michel Barnier indicated during the ceremony that he will go back to France now that Brexit has been concluded.

While Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the process of getting out of the trading bloc took four and a half years.

The European Union and the UK agreed upon a free trade agreement on Christmas Eve 2020.

The post-Brexit transition period between Britain and the EU ended on January 1 2021.

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