Anna Pujol-Mazzini

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has announced he will return to French politics and refused to rule out running in the 2022 presidential election.

“I will use my energy to work for my country,” Mr Barnier told French radio France Info on Tuesday.

He avoided answering a question on whether he would consider running in the 2022 presidential poll.

“My only concern is to be useful to my country, which needs more unity, solidarity, justice, and also respect,” he said.

Mr Barnier said he will not support President Macron’s party The Republic on the Move (LREM), instead continuing his support for the right-wing The Republicans (LR) party.

“I will try to play my part in my political family which also needs to be rebuilt,” he told France Info.

The party has struggled to gather support and find a leader after its candidate François Fillon was involved in a corruption scandal during the 2017 presidential campaign and lost to centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Last Thursday, the 27-country union and Britain struck a historic free trade deal after months of tense talks. While London is due to leave the single market and customs union on December 31, the last-minute deal avoided the introduction of tariffs or quotas on trade in goods.

Mr Barnier’s persistence and ability to keep European countries united in the negotiations strengthened his reputation back in his home country.

The 69-year-old served as minister of foreign affairs, minister of environment and minister of agriculture in France before becoming a European Commissioner then taking on his negotiator role in 2016.

“I have devoted ten years of my life to Europe, I want to get back to my country and the French people who I missed during this period,” he told French newspaper Ouest France on Monday.

“I will be involved again in the French political debate.”