Brexit Negotiators Will Look at Terms of Divorce Before Future Relationship

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 20, 2017

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.

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.

"I hope that today we can identify priorities and the timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations", he said.

Reflecting on Britain's longtime European Union membership, Davis says that "there is more that unites us than divides us" despite the June 23, 2016 referendum in which Britain made a decision to break away from the 27 other member nations.

"We are. determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends", Davis said before the talks.

Mr Davis also brushed off the idea Britain's negotiating stance could change given political instability in the UK.

Still, Johnson called on people to look at the more distant future.

The former French minister said his priority was to clear up the uncertainties that the Brexit vote had created.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has met with the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels to officially start Brexit negotiations.

One of the goals of London is to seal a trade agreement between the two parties, which the British government was confident of negotiating in parallel with the exit talks, but this is a point not welcomed by Brussels.

In this June 19, 2017 photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in London.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that the negotiationsfirst focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

"We're in the same place, we take the same view as Michel [Barnier] on this, we want to see the public informed... by proactive publication of what we are doing, not by leaks or erroneous briefings", Davis said.

May was hoping to increase her support in the British election on June 8, but instead her party lost its outright majority and now has to try to form a workable government with a tiny party from Northern Ireland.

The EU are likely to agree - not least because of the effect of Brexit on industry in the remaining 27 states - but not until near the end of negotiations.

Barnier has a mandate from the EU's 27 member states to focus on guaranteeing the rights of European Union nationals living in the United Kingdom as well as the rights of Britons residing elsewhere in the EU.

While the European Union is insisting on securing divorce terms first, the still pushing for simultaneous discussions on a future relationship to be anchored by a sweeping free-trade accord.

The 60-year-old prime minister emerged victorious from a bitter and divisive leadership battle after her predecessor, David Cameron, quit following Britain's vote a year ago to leave the EU. It could also attempt to negotiate an entirely new trade deal.

The EU side has said that this willonly happen when "sufficient progress" has been made on phase one and that they will determine the level of progress.

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