Merkel urges EU to stick together after Brexit talks launched

Claudine Rigal
Juin 21, 2017

"There is more that unites us than divides us", Davis said, referring to the latest reported terror attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal. "I'm well aware that throughout the process there will be points of compromise".

Minister Coveney said: "I will do my utmost to support the parties in reaching an agreement which ensures that the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement is fully protected, that all of its institutions function effectively and fairly and that previous agreements are honourably implemented". "We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit", said Barnier.

The EU has said that before it will start discussing a future trade deal with the United Kingdom, it wants to resolve the biggest uncertainties arising from Brexit, including the future rights of around 3 million EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the arrangements for avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said the negotiations which should lead to a breakup by March 2019 "must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit — first for citizens, but also for the beneficiaries of the European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland".

"It is not fair to say we have set it aside, far from it", said Barnier, reassuring journalists that him and Davis have spent a lot of time talking about this issue already this day.

"It was clear from the opening that both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership". Mrs May will brief fellow European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday on the UK's approach, which will be set out in a paper on Monday, Mr Davis revealed.

Mr Davis, a veteran campaigner against European Union membership, said he sought quick and substantive progress in what is scheduled to be a two-year negotiation before Britain leaves the EU.

Northern Ireland's border with the Republic and the bill for Britain's previous European Union commitments will also be high on the agenda, Mr Barnier said.

Davis said both sides were "off to a promising start" even though the challenges ahead were daunting.

"I look forward to working closely with you during this negotiation", EU negotiator Barnier said, as quoted by the press service of the European Commission, the EU's executive.

"So we have got a very sensitive political context, a very clear objective which is to preserve all the dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement and we have an bad lot of work to do - bilaterally, and also in coordination with the Dublin government on my side, so that we come up with imaginative and concrete solutions along the lines I have described, particularly taking into account the single market".

"We are citizens first. But the 27 of us will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully, together", Merkel said.

He added: "It's not as if Europe is leaving Britain; Britain wants to leave the EU".

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