Speaking at an event in Spain hosted by the local newspaper El Pais, Juncker said that it “will be more difficult to keep together the 27 EU members states during the second step of negotiations.” This, he argued is because multinational corporations will put pressure on individual governments “to say yes to this or that British proposal” and because individual countries will start squabbling over where to allow the UK ongoing access to the Single Market.
Juncker stressed that he wants Britain to remain a ‘privileged partner’ with the EU but he did not hide that Brexit is clearly causing some strain:
“I’m de-building, deconstructing Europe at the moment… and I’m not happy about that.”
This is one of the first real signs that there are those within the EU who are concerned about the future nature of the trading bloc and view that Brexit is a genuine threat to its survival.
If we need further proof the EU views these negotiations as a threat, the publication of these slides is the clearest indicator that the EU is prepared to flex its muscles and tie the UK to its economic and trade policies for one simple reason, survival. The EU, nervous about its faltering position, isn’t prepared to allow the UK to become a low-tax, low-regulated haven.
The EU is prepared to introduce special arrangements that are legally unprecedented in a free trade deal, and extremely difficult to enforce on a separate jurisdiction. Politically driven demands are outstripping the legal tools available. The EU is now becoming apprehensive about these next round of negotiations and the signs of the strain are starting to show.