Brexit EU negotiating team profile: Head of the EU’s Brexit Special Task Force Didier Seeuws

Newington's Tiffany Burrows and Katie Milne profile Didier Seeuws, Head of the EU’s Brexit Special Task Force.

Age: 52

Background:

Didier Seeuws is a diplomat who has risen through the ranks of the Belgian civil service and started his European career within the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU. Known for his keen eye for detail and trusted judgement, Seeuws will preside over the delicate nature of Britain’s future relationship with the EU and how to keep the remaining Member States happy.

Experience: 10 years

Seeuws has been a diplomat since 1989, having worked in Washington on economic and trade affairs from 1991-1995, as well as in the Belgian Permanent Representation to the EU from 2007-2011, where he was Deputy Permanent Representative. From 2011-2014, Seeuws served as Chief of Staff to previous European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and then was appointed as Director of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy in the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU when Donald Tusk took over the Presidency. The appointment of Seeuws to his current Brexit role was seen by the European Commission as a pre-emptive power grab on the part of the European Council. The Commission has remained concerned that the Council might give the UK more flexibility during the negotiations.

Red tape rating: 3/5

Given his limited experience in powerful European Council roles and wealth of experience in diplomacy, Seeuws is not tied to the challenges of slow bureaucracy. In fact, the Belgian diplomat has made a name for himself in negotiating breakthroughs. When he was Belgium’s deputy ambassador to the EU, he resolved issues over a European patent system that had been deadlocked for more than 30 years.

Contention rating: 1/5

Seeuws is respected for his hard work behind the scenes of the EU, and, unlike Barnier, the Belgian diplomat has no bad blood with the UK. As the experienced diplomat has been trusted to fairly examine technical issues and political dynamics from multiple viewpoints, it is not expected that he will be making any prickly public statements.

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