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Britain begins Brexit talks with the EU in Brussels
20 June 2017, 10:33 | Jan Cross
Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU
Mr Davis denied suggestions the agreed timetable showed Britain's "weakness" and insisted it is "completely consistent" with the Government's aim of parallel trade and exit talks.
Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, will be perhaps the most important single figure on the other side of the table in the two-year talks that will decide the nature of the deal we strike. For the officials sitting down on Monday, at least on the European Union side, a major worry is Britain crashing out into a limbo, with no deal.
Working groups were to take place later to focus on three key areas - the status of European Union citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the European Union; the divorce bill for Britain; and the status of the Northern Irish border with Ireland.
"While there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations we will do all that we can to ensure that we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all citizens".
"There is more that unites us than divides us", Davis said, referring to the latest reported terror attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal.
"It's vital that the deal we strike allows both the United Kingdom and the European Union to thrive, as part of the new deep and special partnership we want with our closest allies and friends".
"The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", another European source said. The negotiations have been called the most complex in Britain's history as it unravels 44 years of membership and its threat to walk out with no deal in place has anxious European capitals. "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 past year to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.
"The clock is ticking", European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a joint news conference with Davis, adding that an orderly withdrawal was essential for both Britain and the EU.
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The British government wants the negotiations to include the future relationship with Europe and an all-important trade deal with the bloc.
The third key issue is the future of the peace process in the British province of Northern Ireland, and the status of the border with the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Davis and his team will hold meetings with their opposite numbers at the European Commission which is leading negotiations on behalf of the European Union member states.
After the initial shock of last year's Brexit vote, the bloc at 27 appears to have steadied in recent months and got a real morale boost with the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in May.
The loyalist DUP has said it will not accept any "special status" for Northern Ireland in the European Union after Brexit, which would eliminate one of the leading suggestions for a solution.
But she now faces growing opposition at home to this, and her threats to walk away without a deal, in the wake of this month's general election in which she lost her centre-right Conservative party's parliamentary majority.
"It's a statement of common sense that if we are going to radically change the way we work together, we need to get there via a slope, not a cliff edge".
He said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time".
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