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So it Begins: Brexit Talks to Focus 1st on Orderly Exit

20 June 2017, 11:08 | Terri Saunders

So it Begins: Brexit Talks to Focus 1st on Orderly Exit

So it Begins: Brexit Talks to Focus 1st on Orderly Exit

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.

Nearly a year after the vote for Brexit, detailed talks have started in Brussels over the form of Britain's departure from the European Union.

Mr Davis's agreement to Monday's agenda led some European Union officials to believe that Ms May's government may at last coming around to Brussels' view of how negotiations should be run. Gabriel said. "Now there is a hard, even impossible situation without any clear majorities or negotiating strategy, he added". Barnier said they wanted to agree on the "main principles of the key challenges of the UK's withdrawal as soon as possible", including Britain's exit bill, the rights of European Union citizens in Britain and the future of Northern Ireland. "We've laid solid foundations for future discussions and an ambitious but achievable timetable", said David Davis, Britain's Brexit minister, adding he was "encouraged" by the first talks.

Talks will begin at 0900 GMT with a joint press conference by former French foreign minister and European commissioner Barnier and Davis at around 1630 GMT.

Davis, a prominent tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign, sounded a positive note, saying that while there would "undoubtedly be challenging times ahead" he wanted a good relationship with the EU.

Both Gabriel and Verhofstadt said that they hoped May's election fiasco would encourage Britain to pursue a "soft Brexit" preserving as many ties with the European Union as possible.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said: "If we don't succeed, both sides will lose".

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Barnier and Davis will have lunch and then there will be four working groups to discuss the main issues: citizenship, the Northern Ireland border, the financial settlement and other questions.

The start of the talks, a year after the 23 June British referendum, marks a highly-symbolic moment as Britain undertakes the complex task of leaving the bloc after over 40 years of integration. May officially triggered the two-year Brexit process in March when she was riding high in the opinion polls.

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.

Talks are expected to stretch around 16-18 months, with Barnier insisting on sticking to the EU's priorities and negotiating the "divorce bill" before opening up talks on future trading.

EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, center, and British Secretary of State David Davis, second left, speak with each other as they arrive at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, June 19, 2017.

"The most important thing I think now is for us to look to the horizon, think about the future, and think about the new partnership, the deep and special partnership that we want to build with our friends".

Though May's gamble will have done little to strengthen the U.K.'s position in European Union talks, analysts suspect it will do little to change its intended Brexit agenda.



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