07:09 GMT +312 November 2019
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    Study Claims Fissures to Open Up Between EU States as Brexit Talks Continue

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    The Institute for Government has advised Britain against pursuing a “divide and conquer” strategy in its negotiations, but says the opportunities exist for it to build relationships with individual countries.

    A study of the remaining 27 EU member states published today by the Institute for Government has predicted that the second phase of Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels will open up differences in the priorities of the different states as they seek advantage in the new trading relationship.

    The report's authors caution the British Government to avoid the perception that it is engaging in its historic strategy of "divide and conquer" by playing various European states off of one another. Nevertheless it notes the opportunity for the United Kingdom to negotiate with individual countries in parallel with Brussels, something which French President Emmanuel Macron has warned would create "a situation which is unfavorable." The sudden increase in British diplomatic visits to European capitals in 2017 was apparently seen on the Continent as evidence of the UK trying to circumvent the Commission in Brussels.

    Potential Allies

    Among the EU states seen as most favorable in their relations with Britain are Ireland, the Baltic countries, Scandinavian states, the Netherlands and Eastern European states such as Poland. All of these countries have deeply entwined relations with Britain, either through shared borders as in the case of Ireland, historical financial ties such as with the Netherlands and expanding military relations including that with Poland.

    While the report notes that Britain does not have particularly poor relations with most European nations, there exists with several the potential for tension, especially with Ireland and Spain which are particularly affected by Brexit by bordering UK territories and facing the prospect of a hard border forming.

    The report also emphasizes however, that most member-states of the bloc will still have significant reason to band together to ensure that Britain does not receive a better arrangement than it had as a member. Most governments, the report claims, will want to use Brexit to try and stem the rise of Eurosceptic feeling by demonstrating to their publics that leaving would not be in their interests by making an example of Britain.     


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