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EU, Britain possible to strike "fair deal": EU chief negotiator
20 June 2017, 05:40 | Darnell Patrick
David Davis and Michel Barnier shake hands at the European Commission in Brussels on Monday as Britain starts formal talks to leave the EUGetty Images
The European Union's Michel Barnier said he hoped the talks, starting nearly a year to the day after a British referendum vote to leave the EU, would establish a timetable to which the negotiations would be conducted.
At one of the most important junctures for Europe and the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Mrs May's government is reeling from a crisis of her own making - the loss of her parliamentary majority in a June 8 snap election she did not need to call.
Appearing on same program, Labour's Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said Britain woulc definitely leave the European Union, and that doind so would prevent it continuing as a full member of the single market.
Davis said both sides were "off to a promising start" even though the challenges ahead were daunting. Both sides want transparency to be the default. And at a final news conference they traded quotes from their respective nations' history: Barnier cited European Union founding father Jean Monnet to say: "I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic. But the 27 of us will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully, together", Merkel said.
Britain has less than two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship. "We've laid solid foundations for future discussions and an ambitious but achievable timetable", said David Davis, Britain's Brexit minister, adding he was "encouraged" by the first talks. Davis insisted that talks about trade would occur "in parallel", but Barnier said they would start only in a second phase.
European stocks rose on Monday, partly on optimism about the talks actually getting underway after months of sniping and uncertainty, analysts said.
Amid reports that May is set to make a "generous offer" on the rights of European Union citizens remaining in Britain, the source said London had been warned against doing so this week, on the grounds that it could drag up the thorny issue before talks had really got going.
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"Our big problem is that we have no picture, no idea at all, what the British want", said German Manfred Weber, the head of the EPP Christian Democrat group in the European Parliament. Davis said she will tell them about plans to guarantee rights for some 3 million European Union citizens in Britain under a proposal to be made next week.
He added: "The United Kingdom has made a decision to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around".
Gabriel said "it would naturally be best if Britain didn't leave at all".
Still, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remained upbeat Monday, saying he thinks the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".
The vote came as a profound shock to Brussels against a backdrop of rising anti-EU sentiment, with many - including now US President Donald Trump - predicting the bloc's eventual break-up.
"If you ask me are we going to make concessions, I must tell you that it is the United Kingdom that is leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and not the other way around", the former European commissioner and French foreign minister told a joint press conference with Davis. "And we want to try to solve the hard things as well as possible".
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