Brexit talks begin with United Kingdom in disarray
20 Juin, 2017, 16:03 | Author: Claudine Rigal
David Davis, the Brexit secretary, will sit down today for Britain's first formal talks with the EU.
Unresolved is everything from the status of European Union citizens living in Britain, to intelligence sharing, to the future of tens of thousands of British jobs that could be wiped out if businesses move to Europe to avoid new trade barriers.
"We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit, first for citizens but also for beneficiaries of European Union policies and for the impact on borders - in particular Ireland", said Barnier, raising the prospect that the British split could rekindle violence in Northern Ireland.
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".
With discontent in europhile Scotland and troubled Northern Ireland, which faces a new European Union border across the divided island, Brexit poses new threats to the integrity of the UK.
United Kingdom negotiator David Davis and the EU's Barnier have one key issue over the first weeks of talks: building trust after months of haggling over leaks and figures over the final bill that Britain would have to pay for leaving.
And he added: "We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves and our European allies and friends for the future".
Barnier, a former French minister, has voiced impatience in the past that Britain has taken almost a year to open talks. The other European Union countries have a united position, but the British are "in chaos", Weber added.
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"I would like us to get a good agreement that is in both sides' interests".
"We are not turning our backs on Europe", he said in the statement.
But the turmoil of the euro zone crisis, fears in Britain about immigration and a series of miscalculations by former Prime Minister David Cameron prompted Britain to vote by 52 to 48 percent for Brexit in a June 23 referendum previous year.
May officially triggered the two-year Brexit process in March when she was riding high in opinion polls, and called for fresh elections shortly afterwards to shore up her mandate for a tough Brexit stance.
Theresa May has said she is "getting on with the job" amid continued questions over her future as Prime Minister.
A "Brexit election" that left UK Prime Minister Theresa May without an overall majority has forced her into a precarious alliance with the far-right Democratic Unionist Party, who are deeply opposed to gay rights and abortion. 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.
"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", rather than tackle the big hard issues right at the start, a European source said.
Macron, a committed pro-EU leader and ally of Merkel, also easily won French legislative elections on Sunday, cementing his power base.
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