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Juncker warns Britain against 'special discussions' with EU member states

File photo dated 25/05/15 of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Cracks are appearing in Brussels' Brexit stance, Nigel Farage has insisted, after warnings from Juncker that the UK was planning a divide and rule strategy in divorce talks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday February 12, 2017. Mr Juncker expressed concern that London may attempt to break EU unity in the tough negotiations by making separate promises to different nations. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned the UK not to try to play off the remaining EU member states against each other in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Speaking in Brussels, Mr Juncker said there could be no "special discussions" between Britain and individual member states.
"In the pre-negotiations and during the negotiations themselves, a situation could arise whereby the UK Government might attempt to or wish to be obliging to certain member states in certain economic zones and certain sectors whereby those countries might to wish to provide certain advantages for the UK," he told reporters.
"It is in our interests therefore that we don't have any special discussions on, say, chemicals or telecommunications or other sectors with certain individual countries."
Mr Juncker was speaking after talks with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, who strongly backed his call for EU leaders to present a united front in the talks.
"If you want to be a member of a club you have better conditions, obviously, than if you want to be outside the club. I am sure our British friends are aware of that in this negotiation process," Mr Kern said.
"That is the only possible outcome. Anything else would be capitulation on the part of Europe. We have got to stand together and maintain this principle right to the end."
Mr Juncker confirmed he did not intend to seek a second term as the commission president when his current five-year term in office ends in 2019.
"This is something I said months ago. As I said at the beginning of my mandate, this is something I wish to do for five years," he said.
Brexit Secretary David Davis, in Helsinki for talks with Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini, said the UK was seeking an outcome that was "good for Britain and good for the European Union".
"We want a successful EU. We want our next-door neighbour to be highly successful, highly stable, highly safe. All the things that you would wish for your friends," he said.
"So we're not talking about a breakup, we're talking about a new relationship. That's what we want to see."
Mr Soini said Finland would approach the Brexit negotiations in a "constructive spirit".
"We know what everybody wants is very difficult and it has its challenges, but we can overcome them. And of course as like-minded countries, the UK was a good partner for us," he said.
"We want to conduct the negotiation in a constructive spirit, but there must be a balance between the rights and obligations."

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