UK, EU's historic Brexit talks commence

20 Juin, 2017, 17:16 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits the scene of a fire disaster which destroyed a tower block in north Kensington West London Britain

Barnier said: "I hope that today we can identify priorites and a time table that would allow me to report to the European Council later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations".

Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019.

London agreed that "English and French will be used as working language".

A terms of reference document setting out the rules for both sides also states: "For both parties the default is transparency".

The UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis had billed it as the "row of the summer", but the senior Conservative ended up making major concessions to the European Union as the parties agreed on a timetable for the two-year-long divorce talks in Brussels on Monday 19 June.

Britain is "very conscious of how they will use that time sequence to pressure us, and we'll avoid that at every turn", Davis told ITV on May 14.

The UK has also agreed to negotiate on the basis of the three priorities set up by the European Union: 1) the rights of European Union citizens living in the UK and vice versa, 2) the financial settlement and 3) the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Talks around Ireland's future relationship with Northern Ireland will be held separately.

Frenchman Barnier struck a firm tone as he said the timetable for Britain's divorce after four troubled decades of membership made sense.

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"Now, the hard work begins", Davis said, adding he wanted a deal that worked for both sides. Such firms sold 7.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of goods to customers in Britain previous year, their fourth-biggest market.

He pushed back against speculation that the United Kingdom might seek to soften Brexit by trying to remain in the EU's single market and tariff-free customs union. "It's wholly illogical and we happen to think the wrong interpretation of the treaty", Davis said on ITV's "Peston on Sunday".

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted last June to become the first nation ever to leave the 28-nation EU. Mr. Hammond wants an agreement that will allow tariff-free access to the Single Market, disrupt freedom of movement, whilst allowing the United Kingdom to sign its own trade deals across the world.

His tone was less confrontational than that of Prime Minister Theresa May, who repeatedly said no deal with the European Union was better than a bad deal before she was weakened by failing to win a parliamentary majority in an election this month.

"So now that the negotiations have started, we are determined to get on with the job and deliver that certainty as soon as possible".

"A fair deal is possible, and far better than no deal ..." He stated that he would favour a solution which would make it less appealing to be outside than inside the EU.

But a week ago Mr Davis said "we will start down this process but I will have some discussions with Mr Barnier about how we progress" to trade talks.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the unity of the remaining 27 European Union countries, who have been alarmed in recent weeks by May's threats to walk out of the talks. As in any divorce, count on both sides to be picky in splitting the goods and dues.

The Brexit secretary said there was "much common ground" between the two sides on the issue of European Union nationals.

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