What the other EU member states are thinking about the Brexit negotiations
This autumn, as politicians across Europe return from their summer breaks they will start to refine their own positions and priorities for negotiations with the UK. If we are to avoid the economic fallout of an acrimonious divorce then it is important to look at what is on the minds of those in other EU countries. In the words of Robbie Burns: "O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us!"
After triggering Article 50, the agreement on the terms of our exit from the EU will require only a majority from the other EU countries. However a new trade deal between the UK and the EU needs the unanimous consent of all 27 EU countries. Any one country could veto it. We cannot assume that just because a deal has the support of, say, Germany, France and Poland that it will be acceptable to all. Many countries have their own historic alliances, and the suggestion that we might try to pick off countries one by one and offer a series of bilateral agreements went down very badly. Our own negotiating strategy needs to be detailed and very well prepared.
My MEP colleagues often remind me that the top priorities of their own national leaders are not the negotiations with the UK. Security and counter-terrorism have become the leading issues for some. For others it is the ongoing situation with migrants arriving from outside the EU. Many EU leaders have their own domestic economic problems and political concerns, including upcoming elections, which will colour their attitude to negotiations with the UK.
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