Historic Brexit divorce negotiations begin in Brussels

20 Juin, 2017, 17:44 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Brexit Boris Johnson sees a'happy outcome for both UK and EU

"Today we agreed on dates, we agreed on organisation, and we agreed on priorities for the negotiation", he said, outlining a two-step negotiation.

Speaking in Brussels, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, made clear where the power lay in the talks when he said Britain had bowed to the EU's demands for two phases.

Barnier said there was agreement that the negotiators would first look at citizen's rights, the outstanding bill Britain must pay for previous European Union commitments and the Irish border issue.

Trade talks can begin if and when "sufficient progress" is made on these issues.

Davis said both sides were "off to a promising start" even though the challenges ahead were daunting.

When asked about agreeing the structure of talks, David Davis has previously said: "That'll be the row of the summer". He said he views the talks with "informed optimism".

The first negotiating session came three months after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a two-year countdown to Britain's withdrawal from the European Union on March 29.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted last June to become the first nation ever to leave the 28-nation EU. Such firms sold 7.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of goods to customers in Britain a year ago, their fourth-biggest market.

Barnier said there will be one week of negotiations every month and the two sides will use the time in between to work out proposals.

But even he criticised the time it had taken for Britain to get to the negotiating table.

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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".

British finance minister Philip Hammond pressed his case for a smooth Brexit that would avoid a damaging "cliff edge" for businesses as the country heads out of the European Union.

Mr Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said it could take "until the end of the process" to resolve the issue, because it will be tied in with the trade and customs deals the United Kingdom is able to strike with Brussels.

In the second step, "we will scope our future partnership".

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

However, Britain rejected the two-stage negotiating arrangement, insisting that the talks on trade relations should take place "in parallel".

Johnson also urged Europeans to look farther down the road. These facts are signs that she might face pressure to a secure a soft Brexit deal as opposed to her original plan of a hard Brexit which would have meant she would have more control over immigration and law-making.

The UK has also dismissed an ultimatum by the European Union to pay a "divorce bill" of around £60 billion before sitting at the negotiating table.

"The new Northern Irish executive needs to be set up in a few days' time, at the same time we have a new government and a new Taoiseach in Dublin and of course there are the ongoing political discussion in London which we are also following closely".

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