UK, EU talk up chance of Brexit deal

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 20, 2017

The EU's chief negotiator, France's Michel Barnier, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a handshake and smiles for the press in the European Commission's landmark headquarters in central Brussels flanked by the EU and British flags.

"The clock is ticking", European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a joint news conference with Davis, adding that an orderly withdrawal was essential for both Britain and the EU.

"Today we agreed on dates, we agreed on organization, and we agreed on priorities for the negotiation", he said, outlining a two-step negotiation.

Davis, a prominent tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign, sounded a positive note too, saying "there is more that unites us than divides us". "But the 27 of us will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully, together", Merkel said.

"We are ... determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends", Davis said before the talks.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has met with the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels to officially start Brexit negotiations.

She then announced - despite having ruled it out repeatedly - that she would seek a fresh mandate to give her the authority to push through a Brexit deal, or even walk away without one if need be.

Ms May, whose future is uncertain after she lost her Conservative majority in an election this month, has insisted that trade talks start immediately and run in parallel. The discussions in the meeting are expected to focus on the major divorce issues such as Britain's exit bill, which is estimated by Brussels at almost 100 billion euros or Dollars 112 billion, the rights concerning the three million EU nationals that stay in Britain, and the exit's impact on the one million Britons living across the European continent, and the status of operations in the states of Northern Ireland and Ireland.

After the initial shock of last year's Brexit vote, the bloc at 27 appears to have steadied in recent months and got a real morale boost with the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in May.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted last June to become the first nation ever to leave the 28-nation EU.

An increasingly concerned European Union has been pushing London to hurry up, with time running out for a deal and three months already gone since May triggered the two-year Article 50 European Union exit process.

European stocks rose on Monday, partly on optimism about the talks actually getting underway after months of sniping and uncertainty, analysts said.

May herself will also have a chance to update the other 27 European Union leaders on her Brexit plans at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

But many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home and still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire. The United Kingdom is going to leave the European Union, single market and the customs union, not the other way around. "Those who do understand aren't being honest - for instance, about the fact that we will nearly certainly need a transition period".

Barnier has warned that the negotiations must be wrapped up by October 2018 to allow time for all parties to ratify a final accord by March 2019.

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