Brexit negotiations kick off almost a year after referendum

Andrew Cummings
June 20, 2017

UK Brexit minister David Davis and EU Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier will meet at the European Commission in Brussels to formally start the highly anticipated talks that will determine exactly how the divorce will work.

The talks expected to stretch for 16-18 months ahead of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union in 2019.

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

He also confirmed that Britain would opt for a "hard Brexit" that involves quitting the EU's single market and customs union, rejecting suggestions that after a poor election performance by May the line might be softened.

If Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, that would create huge uncertainties for citizens and businesses as well as issues like global security. As in any divorce, count on both sides to be picky in splitting the goods and dues. "But the 27 of us will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully, together", Merkel said.

The bloc insists on making "sufficient progress" on all three issues before discussing a future trade deal with the UK.


The talks will be in English and French, they said in a joint statement.

Davis also said the United Kingdom plans to set out its own negotiating aims for Brexit next Monday.

VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said in a statement that "the European Union and Great Britain must absolutely avoid being left without an agreement in two years". Such firms sold 7.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of goods to customers in Britain previous year, their fourth-biggest market.

"I hope today we can identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council (summit) later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations", added the former European commissioner and French foreign minister, speaking against a backdrop of British and EU flags.

The U.K.is due to leave the European Union by the end of March 2019 following last summer's referendum vote.

The talks are set to kick off at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) in Brussels with a meeting between Davis and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.


Mr Davis said there was more time spent on Ireland in Monday's talks than any other subject.

"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.

But the business community and many lawmakers want to retain closer ties with Europe, and they are heaping pressure on the prime minister to change her approach. They should finally tell us what the aim is.

"Leaving gives us the opportunity to forge a bright new future for the United Kingdom - one where we are free to control our borders, pass our own laws and do what independent sovereign countries do", he said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday he still thinks that the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".

Johnson, who supported the "leave" campaign, said that while there would be "lots of discussions about the nature of the deal, about money and so on, the most important thing is to raise our eyes to the future".


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