Saturday, 23 February, 2019

And so it begins: Brexit talks to focus 1st on orderly exit

Brexit The 5 huge issues Britain and EU must settle Ian Berry CNNMoney via CNN Ian Berry CNNMoney
Melinda Barton | 29 June, 2017, 09:07

It also appears Mr Davis and Mr Michel Barnier may have to negotiate in the dark as staff have been told to switch off all the lights.

"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.

October 19 - Mr Barnier is set to report back to the EU27 on whether sufficient progress has been made to move on to phase two of the talks, covering the UK's future trade relationship with the remaining EU.

Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day.

As Britain's Brexit Secretary, David Davis, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, met at the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters, they smiled and shook hands gamely.

The BBC has been told by European Union sources that the talks will follow the EU's preferred pattern of exit negotiations first, with the future relations between the two sides - including the free trade deal the United Kingdom is seeking - at a later date.

At the first formal Brexit negotiations Monday, Britain accepted the EU's timetable that the exit bill, citizens' rights and the Northern Ireland border be settled before its request for a free trade deal be considered.

Until now, British prime minister Theresa May had insisted that both discussions should be held in parallel. "The U.K. has chose to leave the EU".

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.

And even when May finally triggered the two-year unraveling process on March 29, she followed it up with an early election she counted on winning big, only to lose her majority in the June 8 poll.

He had hoped for talks on trade to run in parallel with divorce discussions, but a politically weakened United Kingdom team appear eager to show signs of progress on Monday even if it meant accepting priorities set by their counterparts.

Tusk said that when British friends asked him if he could imagine a way for Britain to remain part of the bloc, he told them "that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve".

Under intense pressure on all sides since losing her majority, May said her task at the Brussels summit would be to set out her plans to protect European Union citizens' post-Brexit rights.

European Union officials had earlier warned May not to make that offer so early in the talks. It is a most hard process, for which the European Union is well prepared.

She said: "I want to say clearly that, for me, shaping the future for the 27 takes priority over the negotiations with Great Britain over withdrawal".

Putting a courageous face on a concession that may further strengthen the tactical dominance of the European Union, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, insisted his initial retreat remained consistent with long-term government strategy.

"We are citizens first".