EU Brexit talks to focus 1st on citizens' rights

20 June, 2017, 13:21 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • David Davis and Michel Barnier

After the first day of the crucial negotiations which have the potential to shape the UK's economic and political future for a generation, it was agreed that working groups of officials would aim to make progress on the issues of citizens' rights, the UK's financial settlement - the so-called divorce bill - and other issues to do with separation. An early election this month, in which Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority, only added to the problems.

Davis and the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, meet with the United Kingdom keen to win back sovereignty without hurting its economy, while the EU's aim is to maintain regional stability and stop inadvertently rewarding Britain's decision to leave for fear of encouraging others to break away. Mr Barnier quoted one of the EU's founding fathers, Jean Monnet, saying in French: "Ce qui est important, ce n'est, ni d'être optimiste, ni pessimiste, mais d'être détermine".

Barnier said they wanted to agree on the "main principles of the key challenges of the UK's withdrawal as soon as possible", including Britain's exit bill, the rights of European Union citizens in Britain and the future of Northern Ireland.

Both sides say they want to safeguard the rights of millions of citizens who have settled in Britain or Europe. "That will be in our mutual interest, but we 27 will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully together".

She added: "I hope that we will reach a good agreement".

Davis said the talks were off to a "promising start" and denied that Britain had caved in on the sequencing of the talks.

May had promised to take Britain completely out of the bloc's common trading area and slash the number of people coming from the EU.

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".

The Brexit Secretary said: "The position hasn't changed, we have the Lancaster House speech, the two white papers, and the Article 50 letter, all backed up by a manifesto too".

He added: "The United Kingdom has chose to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around". We keep hearing that they don't want a 'Norway model, ' they don't want a 'Swiss model, ' they want to leave the customs union, the internal market, they want to limit migration.

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

"Johnson urged Europeans to look at the more distant future". At a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg he said: "The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon".

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