Britain and European Union launch Brexit talks in Brussels

Claudine Rigal
Juin 20, 2017

Official talks, led for Britain by Brexit Secretary David Davis, and by Michel Barnier, on behalf of the EU, began at 11am today at the European Commission's headquarters.

Britain's Department of State for Exiting the European Union tweeted a picture of a smiling Davis and a straight-faced Barnier "after exchanging mountaineering gifts,". "Our Government should seize the initiative and tell the European Union how Britain is going to leave, not ask it how it might be done".

May herself will also have a chance to update the other 27 European Union leaders on her Brexit plans at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said: "We spoke about the very important need for both governments to be impartial actors when it comes to Northern Ireland and that we are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and that any agreement that may exist between the Conservatives and the DUP should not in any way impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

"We have to clear the accounts and we have to honour our mutual financial commitments".

The smiles belied the fact that at stake is not just Britain's future but also Europe's postwar political order and its place in the world, which could be fatally undermined without an agreement by the March 2019 deadline. The EU insists that should wait until an outline agreement on divorce terms, ideally by the end of this year.

"But it has nothing to do with the negotiations in the House of Commons", he said in reference to the ongoing government-forming talks in London.

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

The association represents 3,200 businesses with a million employees in Germany making industrial machinery.

"We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends", he said.

Barnier said: "Today, we are launching the negotiations and orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU".

Monday's talks however are likely to focus on the practical details of timings for the coming months, with the big, divisive issues left aside for now, officials said.

Barnier, has said Brexit will not be "quick and painless", demanded the United Kingdom pays a 100 billion euro "divorce bill", and suggested European Union courts retain their supremacy over British law after Brexit.

Senior Cabinet figures have refused to say how long they expect the Prime Minister to remain in No 10 amid claims that successors are being lined up in readiness for a swift leadership campaign. "Theresa May made an honorable attempt to close down that debate in January with her speech about leaving the single market, leaving the customs union, taking control of immigration". Finally he claimed the negotiations would offer "a revolution" which would solve a longstanding issue in British politics.

"The elections were awful for May but I don't think the fundamental dynamics of the Brexit negotiations will change because of that", Stefan Auer, associate professor in European Studies at the University of Hong Kong, told CNBC on Monday.

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