Brexit talks: Citizens' rights and exit bill ahead of trade

Claudine Rigal
Juin 23, 2017

As well as Britain's exit bill and citizens' rights, the two sides will have to discuss whether they can avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Davis said the timetable was "ambitious but eminently achievable".

The UK government has been forced in to a major climbdown on the first day of Brexit negotiations after being forced to accept the EU's timetable for talks.

But the point was effectively conceded before talks began, with Mr Davis yesterday accepting an European Union timetable set out last week, which makes clear trade will only be discussed once "sufficient progress" is made on citizenship, Northern Ireland and a "single financial settlement" of as much as £88 billion.

However, in a press conference following the first day of Brexit talks, European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier revealed that Davis had accepted the EU's original demands.

"The UK is going to leave the European Union, single market and the customs union, not the other way around. And the consequences are substantial". "Today we agreed on dates, we agreed on organisation, and we agreed on priorities for the negotiation", he said, outlining a two-step negotiation.

A detailed paper will then be published on Monday, Mr Davis confirmed.

Image: The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier (R) welcomes Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis at the European Commission ahead of their first day of talks in Brussels, Belgium, June 19, 2017.

"That is what I said to David today". There will be no hostility on my side.

"There will be no austerity on my side, I will display a constructive attitude firmly based on interests and support of the (EU) 27, and I will all the time seek to the continued support of the European Parliament", he said.

From his comments, it appeared that the Brexit talks will largely follow the EU's conditions and will center on the two sides' new relationship only once sufficient progress has been made on the withdrawal issues. "We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit", said Barnier.

"There is a long way to go, but we are off to a promising start". Mr Dastis reiterated that the Gibraltar issue need not be the first or most important, but a bilateral issue to be tackled once the negotiations present a clearer picture.

"Now, we have a shared responsibility to deliver quick and substantive progress".

Given that a disorderly departure would have greater impact on the United Kingdom economy than Europe's, officials have warned that Brussels would have the upper hand in several aspects of the talks because of the limited time available to conclude a wide-ranging exit deal.

The talks mark the start of what will be one of the most politically sensitive global negotiations of modern times.

"The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon".

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