EU, UK agree Brexit talks principles: Barnier

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 20, 2017

U.K. Brexit secretary David Davis will travel to Brussels to meet with the E.U.'s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Uncertainty over the future trading relationship also means that special status in the talks has been given to discussions on how to limit the impact on peace in Northern Ireland from the creation of a new EU-UK border with the Irish Republic. It left an image of a dysfunctional Britain coming up against a well-oiled European Union negotiating machine.

"Ultimately, if the Government is really out to get the best deal for Britain, they must be open to compromise on more than just the timetable of the talks, and start putting our economic prosperity at the heart of their negotiating strategy", he said.

"There is more that unites us than divides us", Mr Davis said, referring to the latest reported terrorist attack overnight in London and the loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal. An EU official said Britain still refused to accept it would owe Brussels anything.

Mr. Davis is expected to say: "We want both sides to emerge strong and prosperous, capable of projecting our shared European values, leading in the world, and demonstrating our resolve to protect the security of our citizens".

"I will display a constructive attitude firmly based on the interests and support of the 27 [member states]".

Britain, the EU's biggest financial market is leaving the bloc in 2019, raising the prospect of an abrupt cut in cross-border links without a new trade deal.

Those issues are the exit bill; the rights of three million European Union nationals living in Britain and the one million Britons on the continent who now are allowed to live, work and claim welfare benefits; and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"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".

"Today we agreed on dates, we agreed on organization and we agreed on priorities for negotiations", Barnier told a joint press conference with British counterpart David Davis. We have taken the first, critical steps together.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has promised to deal with negotiations on the UK's withdrawal in a "constructive" way and said he believed a "fair" deal was possible for both sides and "far better" than the prospect of the United Kingdom leaving without an agreement. But the situation is very different from 12 months ago when the Brexiteers were riding high, with Prime Minister Theresa May's entire approach called into question after a disastrous election performance on June 8.

In a sign of the progress that has been made, Mr Davis said the Prime Minister would brief fellow European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday on the UK's approach to the rights of expatriate citizens, which will be set out in detail in a paper on Monday.

A special dialogue involving senior negotiators from each side has been set up to consider the issue, with Mr Davis' official Olly Robbins holding talks with Mr Barnier's deputy Sabine Weyand on the issue. But Union 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 follow.

He said: "The reality is we need to let the negotiators get on with it and at the end of the day let's see what will roll out".

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