EU, Britain possible to strike 'fair deal'

20 Juin, 2017, 16:24 | Author: Claudine Rigal

The contrast between the suave and immaculately turned out Michel Barnier and our own David Davis at the Brussels press conference this evening was striking.

This week marks a year since Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union.

The U.K. and the European Union started talks on Britain's exit from the bloc Monday morning, nearly a year after the U.K. voted to leave, with EU chief negotiator saying he hoped the two sides can start removing the uncertainties created by that decision.

"We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit, we want to make sure that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom happens in an orderly manner, then in a second step we will scope our future partnership", the French politician said.

In a brief appearance before beginning talks with Barnier, Davis said, "There is more that unites us than divides us". "In a second step, we will scope our future partnership".

As required by the European Union, negotiations will start with the divorce itself, and when "sufficient progress" has been achieved, they will move onto discussing the future relationship between the bloc and the UK.

The top European Union negotiator, Michel Barnier, a former foreign minister of France, gave Davis a walking stick from his home region in the Alps.

The two men said they will meet once every month for catch-up talks.

The Brexit Secretary read out a section from May's Article 50 letter, which only seemed to highlight his concession, before adding: "When we eventually get to the point where the Council decide we have made enough progress, both sets of dialogue will continue, including free trade, not just trade, including customs, security, obviously cooperation in all sorts of ways".

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Au contraire, said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, who made clear that Britain first must leave the union, then talk about terms of their future relationship. Davis also said he was optimistic for a "positive" and "constructive" start to the negotiations, which are going ahead as planned despite the results of the snap election called by Theresa May which saw the Conservative party lose its overall majority.

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

And the letter sent by Prime Minister Theresa May to the European Union triggering Article 50 in March had said: "We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union".

He said those were the rights of expatriate citizens and problems of a new EU-UK border, notably cutting across Ireland.

He added that the United Kingdom would seek to set up a free trade arrangement and a custom agreement.

As Europe grows more confident in its future after the election victory in France of pro-EU President Emmanuel Macron and the growing assurance from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she will be re-elected in September, analysts say there may be fewer reasons for Europe to compromise.

They denied strongly that Ireland had been sidelined and said it had been the issue which consumed most of their time on Monday and was technically most hard.

It announced in a separate statement that Parliament would sit for two years instead of the usual one to give MPs enough time to fully consider the laws required to make Britain ready for Brexit.

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