Davis calls for special partnership with Brussels as Brexit talks begin

The Brexit Secretary is meeting members of Spain's government as part of his effort to build bridges across the continent.

UK Secretary of State for Brexit David Davis is welcomed by Michel Barnier, the European chief negotiator, ahead of a meeting at the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium.

The UK dropped its objections to the EU's preferred order for talks after the general election result jeopardised its negotiating position. Given that the talks have begun with a win for the European Union, the Brexit Secretary will be hoping that this holds true.

The Brexit talks, which finally began yesterday, came nearly a year after Britons voted to leave the European Union and amid confusion over what exactly the British government wants from the divorce.

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.

It's possible for the European Union (EU) and Britain to strike a fair Brexit deal which is "far better than no deal", a European Union official said.

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Officials charged with negotiating the first departure of a country from the European Union were in Brussels on Monday to kick off the most consequential series of talks for the United Kingdom since the end of World War II.

The Irish Border is one of the EU's top three priorities in the first phase of talks, along with citizens' rights and the UK's financial settlement.

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, known by its German initials VDMA, says that that goal of the two-year negotiating process is "damage limitation" because Brexit won't benefit either side. It left an image of a dysfunctional Britain coming up against a well-oiled European Union negotiating machine.

Davis was heartened by the spirit of the talks, during which the negotiators, both interested in mountaineering, exchanged a walking stick and a hiking book.

The UK kicked off talks in Brussels with both sides agreeing a schedule for dialogue as they attempt to pave the way to Brexit.

The UK has now agreed to enter talks on divorce proceedings, including Britain's exit bill and the border with Northern Ireland, before any talks on future trading relations can begin. "Business wants an atmosphere of pragmatism, civility and mutual respect to characterise this complex process", he said in a statement on the start of the negotiations. This must be taken into account, according to Asselborn.

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"The position we have agreed today is completely consistent with our long-term position".

"There is a long way to go, but we are off to a promising start".

Dr Fox said: "Our valuable talks underlined the shared interest in forging a closer trade and economic relationship including making progress on policy co-ordination, regulatory issues and expanding trade and investment between our economies".

"And while there is a long road ahead, our destination is clear - a deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the EU".

Britain already appears to have capitulated to the EU's insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

"In the meantime, the United States is committed to continuing discussions for improving trade and investment and co-ordinating on addressing global excess capacity issues".

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