London and Brussels will start negotiations on a Brexit 19 Jun
London and Brussels will start negotiations on a Brexit 19 Jun
20 Junio, 2017, 11:27
After nearly a year of waffling, Britain on Monday finally opens negotiations with its European Union counterparts about leaving the bloc, with the final outcome, due in 2019, as important as it now seems unpredictable.
Speaking in Brussels, Brexit Minister David Davis said London wanted a "new, deep and special partnership" in the interest of Britons and all Europeans, Sky News reported.
"We want both sides to emerge strong and prosperous, capable of projecting our shared European values, leading in the world, and demonstrating our resolve to protect the security of our citizens".
She has also seen her snap election backfire with the Conservatives losing seats, while Labour saw gains.
A Survation poll for ITV's Good Morning Britain programme put the opposition Labour party ahead by three points (44% to 41%), but also showed that 52% believed May was the best person to lead Brexit negotiations. Davis, a prominent tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign, sounded a positive note too, saying "there is more that unites us than divides us". Negotiations on Brexit must be completed before March 2019.
The Brexit Secretary said: "The position hasn't changed, we have the Lancaster House speech, the two white papers, and the Article 50letter, all backed up by a manifesto too".
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.
"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. European Union officials said last week that Britain now agreed with them the early part of the talks should focus on the rights of citizens living in each other's economy, the financial settlement the bloc argues the United Kingdom owes and maintaining a soft border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Today, Barnier will work with Davis to scope out a timetable for the negotiations during a 90-minute session, and then spend two-and-a-half hours in working groups responding to agreements from the principal negotiators.
"The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon".
EU, UK agree Brexit talks principles: Barnier
Merkel said Monday: "I think it is premature to speculate on the first day of the negotiations how they will end". The two sides are expected to meet monthly until March 2019, when Brexit is due to happen.
As Brexit secretary, David Davis will be Britain's principal negotiator in Brussels. Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted past year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so.
While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.
Threats by Britain to walk away without a deal have anxious European capitals.
Yet many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home, still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire. He is clearly looking for a softer, more flexible approach - "a slope, not a cliff-edge".
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