After news emerged that this week’s Brexit trade talks were cancelled, the 69-year-old Frenchman today announced the news he had tested positive for the virus via with Twitter feed. He assured his followers he remains in good spirits and is “morale is good”. Mr Barnier is the second high-profile European Commission official to have gone into self-isolation in the last week.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Barnier said: “I would like to inform you that I have tested positive for Covid-19.
“I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.
“For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.
The Brussels bureaucrat is known for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and his love of walking through the mountainous Savoie region in the French Alps.
Messages of support flooded in for the much-loved Frenchman, who has built a collection of admirers over recent years through his handling of the Brexit process.
European Council President Charles Michel said: “Get well soon my dear Michel Barnier.
“Wishing you a speedy recovery. I am convinced we will win this battle against Covid-19 together.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Dear Michel Barnier, I wish you a quick recovery. We are with you.”
Ireland’s European affairs minister Helen Mcentee said: “Wishing you and all your team a speedy recovery. We are with you, Michel Barnier.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “We send Michel Barnier our best wishes for his recovery.”
It is understood David Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator has also sent his best wishes to the Frenchman.
The last time they met was during the last round of negotiations in Brussels earlier this month.
Responding to the cancellation on Tuesday, a UK Government spokesman said: “In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round.
“We expect to share a draft FTA alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future, as planned.
“Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure in the coming weeks.
“The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”