16:53 GMT +320 February 2018
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    Juncker Vets New UK Proposed Commissioner in Diplomatic Waltz After Brexit

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    The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker is set to interview Sir Julian King, Britain's proposed new Commissioner, following the resignation of Lord Hill who declared he would step down following the referendum decision to quit the EU.

    The "interview" process is delicate for two reasons. It is the first time ever that a new commissioner is being appointed ahead of a country invoking article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which triggers negotiations to leave the EU.

    Second, relations between Jean-Claude Juncker and the UK have always been delicate, ever since UK Prime Minister David Cameron objected to Juncker's appointment, on the grounds the former Luxembourg prime minister was too centralist.

    Lord Hill — the UK's current commissioner — was in charge of ensuring that financial markets are properly regulated and supervised so that they are stable, competitive and transparent, at the service of jobs and growth. This includes the full implementation of the banking union.

    He was also tasked with establishing a Capital Markets Union by 2019, for all 28 Member States of the EU. However, following the In-Out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, June 23, Hill announced he would step down. It was clear he would have been unable to create a banking union by 2019, while also negotiating Britain's departure.

    Bring on the French Ambassador

    An important signal is being sent to Brussels by the proposal to replace him with Sir Julian King, the current British ambassador to France, who speaks fluent French and has worked with the European Commission before.

    ​King was ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2011. He has served in a number of posts, including Brussels, New York, Paris, Luxembourg, The Hague, Lisbon as in London. 

    From 2008 to 2009, he worked in the European Commission, on secondment, heading the Office of the British Commissioner.

    The triggering of Article 50 will not be made until the UK has a new prime minister, David Cameron having announced he would resign after failing to win the battle to keep Britain in Europe. There is currently a race-off between Home Secretary Theresa May and energy minister Andrea Leadsom for the leadership of the Conservatives and the next prime minister. 

    If Juncker deems King fit to be the next commissioner, Sir Julian will be backed up by a specially convened group of high-level civil servants currently being put together in London. They will be tasked with renegotiating the UK's relationship with the EU, since exiting the union would effectively rip up Britain's part in every union treaty.

    It will take enormous diplomatic skills and expertise to conduct the negotiations, which could take years to conclude. Putting in a career Eurodiplomat like Sir Julian — a keen sports fan — could smooth what would otherwise be stormy waters during the negotiations.

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