Brexit negotiations kick off almost a year after referendum

20 June, 2017, 13:49 | Author: Valerie Burke

Barnier said he hoped the talks, starting nearly a year to the day after a British referendum vote to leave the EU, would "identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations".

"There is no doubt that the road ahead will at times be challenging, but as Winston Churchill once said: 'The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity".

David Davis, the country's top EU negotiator, will meet with his opposite number, Michel Barnier, in Brussels to begin what is expected to be a long and arduous series of talks aimed at extracting the United Kingdom from more than 40 years of political and economic ties with the European Union over the next two years.

Their first task must be to "tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", he said, citing the rights of European Union citizens in Britain and the possible impact on the open border between Northern Ireland and the republic.

The first day of Brexit talks has set a "solid foundation for future discussions", but there is still a long way to go, David Davis has said. European Union diplomats hope this first meeting, and a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where May will encounter - but not negotiate with - fellow European Union leaders, can improve the atmosphere after some spiky exchanges.

"For me, it is above all about the EU27 proceeding together and listening carefully to Britain's wishes and expectations", Merkel said after meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Only once the EU27 determine that "sufficient progress" has been made on these issues will talks be able to progress to a second phase, where the two sides will begin to scope out the future of their relationship. He said he views the talks with "informed optimism".

Both men will meet for a week every month to negotiate, and use the time in between to "work on proposals".

But the government still wants to negotiate its future trade relationship with the European Union "alongside" talks on the terms for Brexit.

The association represents 3,200 businesses with a million employees in Germany making industrial machinery.

But he didn't mention the EU's third objective - for Britain to settle a bill of tens of billions of euros.

The talks will address a number of issues, including how much money Britain will owe the political and economic union, the rights of British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain, and how to minimize the effects of the split on the fragile peace between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

But speaking after six hours of talks with the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, Davis confirmed the United Kingdom now accepted the European approach.

European stocks rose on Monday, partly on optimism about the talks actually getting underway after months of sniping and uncertainty, analysts said.

European People's Party caucus leader Manfred Weber told German radio station Bayern 2 Monday: "Our big problem is that we have no picture, no idea at all what the British want".

From the Brexit brigade's initial chest-beating and wild promises of reduced immigration and increased prosperity to Theresa May's shrill denunciation of the EU's "threats against Britain", the British position has been chaotic and weak.

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