Negotiating Brexit: what do the UK’s negotiating partners want?

20 October 2017

Amidst the intense political debate and coverage in the UK, it sometimes seems to be forgotten that the outcome of the current negotiations will not be decided in London. The UK’s negotiating partners – the other 27 member states, as well as the EU institutions, and perhaps even the members of the European Free Trade Association – will also have a major say. In fact, contrary to political wisdom in some quarters, it may even be that the UK’s negotiating partners hold the upper hand.

For that reason, but also because the UK’s departure will have far-reaching consequences for the EU, neighbouring states, and countries across the globe, it is important to know how the UK’s partners are approaching the negotiations. How important is Brexit to them? Did they see it coming? How are they preparing? Do they see the UK’s departure as a matter for regret, an opportunity, or both? And, although the EU has set out principles that will guide its approach, will they hold? How are they viewed from the national capitals of the EU27?

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The views expressed in this research paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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