'UK bullish commentary souring Brexit negotiations'


6 March 2017

  • The UK has overestimated its hand in Brexit negotiations, and risks making a post-Brexit trade deal a remote possibility, according to a new report from the Aston Centre for Europe.
  • Findings based on private seminars held with policy makers and opinion formers from Germany, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
  • UK’s ‘red lines’ on leaving jurisdiction of European Court of Justice and freedom of movement causing significant negotiating issues.
  • The German government is ‘formidably well prepared’ for Brexit talks.

The UK is systematically overestimating the strength of its hand in Brexit negotiations, with ‘bullish commentary’ from British politicians souring the climate prior to securing a deal, a new report has found.

The report, written by Dr Ed Turner and Professor Simon Green of the Aston Centre for Europe (ACE), is based on two private seminars held earlier this year with politicians and opinion formers in Berlin and Bratislava just weeks before the UK is scheduled to trigger Article 50.

It found membership and integrity of the single market and the rule of the European Court of Justice is a high priority in Germany, making the prospect of a UK-EU trade deal ‘difficult to achieve’.

In Central European countries – Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – the UK’s ‘red line’ on freedom of movement is a significant stumbling block. However, the possibility of an EU trade deal with the UK post-Brexit is viewed more pragmatically, the report states.

Still, the benefits of outward migration to the UK are being increasingly questioned in Central Europe – having become associated to the phenomenon known as ‘brain drain’ where the countries’ highest trained workers emigrate in large numbers – indicating compromise by these countries may be considered.

In the summary, the report says: ‘Each of these countries is gearing up for the Brexit negotiations. The German government is formidably well-prepared, will be influential in shaping the EU position, and is resistant to any “bilateralisation” of negotiations. The [Central European] countries’ civil service capacity is more limited, but they are also becoming prepared.

‘Bullish commentary from British politicians about the strength of their hand, and threats to engage in competitive reduction in levels of corporate taxation, are serving to sour the climate prior to negotiations, and there is a sense across these countries that the UK government is overestimating the strength of its negotiating position.’

It concludes: ‘There are very significant obstacles standing in the way of a mutually beneficial outcome of the Brexit process. While each of the countries recognises the potential usefulness of bilateral and multilateral links in the future … the UK’s “red lines” will make it very hard to achieve a positive deal.’

The report is due to be formally launched at an event in Parliament on Wednesday, 8 March.


Notes to the editor

A copy of the report has been distributed along with this press release. Please contact Aston University Press Office if you have any difficulties. This report was partially funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s UK in a changing Europe programme.

About Aston Centre for Europe

Aston Centre for Europe (ACE) is a leading research centre for the study of European Politics and Society. It acts as a ‘hub’ for a range of Europe and EU-related research projects and teaching activities across Aston University. Reflecting the European strengths of Aston’s research culture, ACE has since 2009 become a major centre for research in European politics and society and ensured the real-world applicability of that research through practitioner engagement. For more info, visit the website: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lss/research/research-centres/aston-centre-europe/

About Dr Ed Turner

Dr Ed Turner is Head of Politics and International Relations at Aston University. He is an expert on German politics, and has widely on federalism, political parties, and Christian Democracy.

About Professor Simon Green

Professor Simon Green is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University. His research interests lie in European politics, especially in comparative immigration, integration and citizenship policy, as well as in German political structures and party politics. He co-founded the Aston Centre for Europe and chaired the International Association for the Study of German Politics.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For more than 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston recently held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey. www.aston.ac.uk/50

For more information, call Ben Kennedy, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4592 or email [email protected]