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EU's Barnier Hopes to Remove Brexit Uncertainties as Talks Begin

20 June 2017, 04:24 | Darnell Patrick

As was announced earlier, the first phase of the talks, during which the negotiators will be meeting for one week every month, will focus on the rights of European Union and United Kingdom citizens living overseas, the financial bill the United Kingdom will have to settle and the bloc's new external border in Northern Ireland.

The historic Brexit talks - negotiations over the first-ever European Union country to demand to leave the bloc - finally began Monday. "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", he said.

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".

"We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union".

Mr Davis gave Brussels' chief negotiator a rare book on mountaineering - a French-language version of Regards vers l'Annapurna, signed by Marcel Ichac, one of the two authors.

The two men said they will meet once every month for catch-up talks.

"I would like us to get a good agreement that is in both sides' interests".

Davis brushed off a suggestion that a weakened Conservative government had dropped objections to a Brussels timetable, which would deal first with European Union priorities, including its demand Britain settle a "Brexit bill", and leave the talks on free trade that May wants until at least late this year.

A "Brexit election" that left UK Prime Minister Theresa May without an overall majority has forced her into a precarious alliance with the far-right Democratic Unionist Party, who are deeply opposed to gay rights and abortion.

Time is pressing. After the June 23, 2016, referendum to leave the bloc, the other 27 nations wanted to start the exit talks as soon as possible so they could work on their own future but Britain long seemed dazed by its own momentous move.

Ms May, whose future is uncertain after she lost her Conservative majority in an election this month, has insisted that trade talks start immediately and run in parallel.

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British foreign minister Boris Johnson, like Davis a prominent backer of the leave campaign, also sounded an upbeat note.

"This is one of the most sensitive issues before us", said European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The UK Government said in a press release that Davis is "confident that he can get a positive outcome and secure a new deep and special partnership with the European Union".

"It was clear from the opening that both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership".

Brexit talks have finally begun.

A key issue he did not mention was the EU's bill for Britain to leave, which Brussels estimates at a colossal 100 billion euros.

The issues at stake are daunting.

But EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to quit.

Though the basic outlines of a deal could be struck in the allotted time, he said, uncertain British politics could add a challenge.

"These talks will be hard at points, but we will be approaching them in a constructive way".

Information for this article was contributed by Raf Casert of The Associated Press and by Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post.



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