United Kingdom is ready to talk Brexit negotiations with EU

United Kingdom is ready to talk Brexit negotiations with EU

United Kingdom is ready to talk Brexit negotiations with EU

The U.K. and the European Union started talks on Britain's exit from the bloc Monday morning, nearly a year after the U.K. voted to leave, with EU chief negotiator saying he hoped the two sides can start removing the uncertainties created by that decision.

Mr Barnier boasted before the meeting that he prepared for Brexit talks by hiking in the French Alps of his native Savoy region at weekend "to draw the strength and energy long hikes demand".

"It is not fair to say we have set it aside, far from it", said Barnier, reassuring journalists that him and Davis have spent a lot of time talking about this issue already this day.

Brussels has vowed it will not begin trade talks until it is paid - but Theresa May has said they must start immediately and occur at the same time. "And we agreed that we stand a much greater chance of success if our teams work together as that's been demonstrated today", added the Brexit secretary.

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", he said, using a line also expressed by the EU.

"In the first step, the negotiation rounds will be broken down into three groups - citizen rights, the single financial settlement, and other separation issues".

Barnier and Davis will have a week of negotiations each month, while the other three weeks will be used for preparations and working out the details. The last round, according to the current schedule, will start on 9 October, 10 days before the European Union summit where leaders are expected to assess the progress made. "We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", he said.

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The EU had demanded early agreement on the rights of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom, the Brexit divorce bill and the Northern Irish border, before any discussions could begin on a trade deal.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with any negotiations inside the House of Commons", he insisted.

Mr Davis denied suggestions the agreed timetable showed Britain's "weakness" and insisted it is "completely consistent" with the Government's aim of parallel trade and exit talks.

Brexit department mandarin Olly Robbins and the UK's ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, will join Mr Davis for the lunch session. A good deal for the European Union would be a bad deal for the UK. "It is not the other way around.So we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decision, and the consequences are substantial".

The mood was "incredibly positive" on the first day of Brexit talks between both sides, a British source said.

The difficulty, and potential acrimony, of the Brexit process could however be felt.

European Commission official Mr Barnier warned the United Kingdom faced "substantial" consequences as a result of Brexit but insisted it was "not about punishment" or revenge.

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"Even if we are forced to leave the Single Market, retaining membership of the Customs Union remains an absolute priority for my organisation, as it does across the agricultural sector".

Last month, Mr Davis vowed to wage the "row of the summer" to secure immediate talks on a free trade agreement - predicting an early collapse if the European Union refused to give way.

Mr Barnier said: "There is a very, very sensitive political dimension to this".

Both sides acknowledged the clock was ticking, with the date for the UK's departure from the European Union fixed for March 2019.

Several EU foreign affairs ministers called for speedy discussions.

Anticipating the challenges in the months ahead, both referenced fellow countrymen who defended their visions. Mr Barnier quoted one of the EU's founding fathers, Jean Monnet, saying in French: "Ce qui est important, ce n'est, ni d'être optimiste, ni pessimiste, mais d'être détermine".

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