Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

19 June, 2017, 16:01 | Author: Valerie Burke

The EU's chief negotiator, France's Michel Barnier, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a handshake and smiles for the press in the European Commission's landmark headquarters in central Brussels flanked by the EU and British flags.

But he said that Monday morning's terror attack in London and the devastating fires in Portugal reminded him that "there is more that unites us than divides us".

"Our objective is clear".

Davis said the talks would be carried out in "a positive and constructive tone", with Britain looking to forge a "strong and special partnership for the future".

Prime Minister Theresa May had taken a hard-line approach on leaving the European Union but a disastrous election result for her Conservative party on June 8 has left London's policy in disarray and her own political future uncertain.

The occasion marks the start of Brexit negotiations after Prime Minister Theresa May activated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the mechanism that officially notifies the European Union that a country wishes to leave the 27-member bloc - on March 29 and set a two-year negotiations period in motion.

"Our big problem is that we have no picture, no idea at all, what the British want", said German Manfred Weber, the head of the EPP Christian Democrat group in the European Parliament.

Still, the May's government said in a statement it was "confident it can achieve a bold and ambitious deal that will work in the interest of the whole United Kingdom".

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said: "If we don't succeed both sides will lose".

Johnson made his comments upon his arrival at an EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on the day that Brexit negotiations will begin in Brussels, reports Efe news.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been struggling to put together a working government since the Conservative Party lost its majority in the June 8 election.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that the negotiationsfirst focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

Still, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remained upbeat Monday and thinks that the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".

"The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon".

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