And so it begins: Brexit talks to focus first on orderly exit

Claudine Rigal
Juin 20, 2017

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the talks with Brexit minister David Davis, which are starting a full year after Britain's seismic vote to leave, had started "on the right foot".

The Brussels talks began nearly a year after Britain unexpectedly voted in a referendum to leave the European Union and less than two weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her overall majority in snap elections that raised questions about the stability of the government the European Union faces.

But she lost her parliamentary majority in the June 8 polls, putting that policy and her own political future in doubt.

Yet after a few hours of talks in Brussels today, the row was averted, with Britain seemingly giving in.

Both sides were determined to give the talks a positive spin, with Mr Davis and Mr Barnier exchanging mountaineering gifts - a walking stick and a book on hiking - ahead of the all-day meeting.

The EU's negotiating guidelines also state that ensuring there isn't a legal vacuum immediately after the United Kingdom leaves the EU should be discussed in the first stage of talks.

"I would like us to get a good agreement that is in both sides' interests". The talks will be hard, but he is expecting that all points will be approached in a constructive way. The election left an image of a dysfunctional Britain coming up against a well-oiled European Union negotiating machine.

While "Brexiteers" have strongly backed May's proposed clean break with the single market and customs union, finance minister Philip Hammond and others have this month echoed calls by businesses for less of a "hard Brexit" and retaining closer customs ties.

Time and time again expat groups, politicians and think tanks have urged both sides in the talks to get on with discussing citizen rights to alleviate the anxiety of millions of people who have chosen to make their life in another country.

Issues surrounding trade are set to be addressed later.

Mr Barnier indicated at the end of May that he is hoping for agreement upon the three points "between October and December 2017".

Germany's foreign minister says there may now be a chance of a "soft" British exit from the European Union that keeps the the bloc's single market, but is warning that Britain couldn't pick and choose its conditions.

Talks on Britain leaving the European Union began Monday with both sides saying they will focus first on an orderly withdrawal: a deal for citizens living in each other's territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain will pay to get out of previous EU commitments.

Despite failure to reach a deal with the DUP, the Queen will still read out the speech during the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

Subjects for the negotiations, which officially start in Brussels later, include the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border. Any opinions expressed herein are in good faith, but are subject to change without notice.

The information contained in this document was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy or completeness can not be guaranteed.

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