The European Union has appointed Frenchman Michel Barnier to lead to the negotiations on Britain's exit from the union once London decides to initiate the talks.

Barnier is a veteran EU politician, who had two stints as Commissioner and also a member of parliament. In the French government, the 65-year-old also was foreign and European affairs minister.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday called him "a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations."

He will take up his position in October, although he will only start the essence of the job once Britain officially asks to start to the exit negotiations. It is still unclear when that will be.