By Harry Busz
The UK has been warned not to engage in parallel negotiations with individual EU countries when it triggers Article 50 in March.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president has identified that a united front will be key in negotiating a Brexit deal as well as any future trade deals if they are to positively benefit the EU.
Juncker stated in a press conference earlier this week that ‘a situation could arise whereby the UK might attempt to or wish to be obliging to certain member states in certain economic zones’ in order to secure future trade deals.
This has led to beliefs that the UK’s negotiation team may attempt to exploit divisions between different member states in order to negotiate favourable deals on trade in certain sectors such as finance and telecommunications.
Following last week’s overwhelming vote in the commons to transfer the power to Theresa May to trigger Article 50, renewed interest has been placed on the difficulty of reaching a deal that all EU member states as well as the UK will agree too.
The days of the UK’s cherry-picking surrounding Europe are expected to come to a halt, with multiple EU leaders believing that the UK must be punished in order to show that life outside the union is nothing other doubtful countries should aspire to.
However, Brexit Secretary David Davis remains hopeful of a positive new relationship that can look to offer both sides a positive outcome, with the UK still wishing for zero tariffs on trade to the single market, a situation that many EU taxpayers and leaders see as completely unreasonable.
It is also feared that the UK will enter a period of limbo after triggering Article 50, with countries such as the USA and Australia unlikely to be able to sign deals until the UK-EU negotiations are finalised.
This is likely to disrupt trade between the UK and the 50 countries it has trade deals with through the EU as the UK faces potential fines for early negotiations.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern also maintained the view that a united EU will perform much better in negotiations, claiming a capitulation of a united European front could threaten the Unions future.
However, many European leaders have denounced a possible punishing of the UK for leaving the Bloc, with Polish leaders criticising Brussels for its position on tough negotiating, claiming that it could lead to the downfall of the whole European project.
Speaking during a visit to Finland, Brexit Secretary Davis Davis said he wanted an outcome which was foor for both the EU and the UK.
“We’re not talking about a break-up, we’re talking about a new relationship, that’s what we want to see,” he said.
The split on attitudes towards the UK from within the EU lead as a stark reminder of the huge task negotiators face, as they attempt to clarify the terms of exit and then any future relationship, with Theresa May maintaining she would prefer no deal over a bad one.