Barnier and Davis agree on Brexit talks' priorities and timetable

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.

Turning to a well-worn phrase favoured by European Union negotiators, he said: "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".

"Today we are launching negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU", said Barnier, a former European commissioner and French foreign minister.

While the European Union negotiating team led by Michel Barnier has been ready for months, Britain stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

"In the first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues, we must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit; we want to make sure that the withdrawal of United Kingdom happens in an orderly manner".

In carefully choreographed talks that even saw the two men exchange mountaineering gifts, they agreed to discuss divorce issues before negotiations on a future trade deal can start.

"N. Ireland has taken more time today than anything else", said Davis on UK's behalf reminding that the issue is politically sensitive, just to add that determining an invisible border is the point. "The best way we can spend this week is to rebuild trust", another European source said. According to what both sides revealed during their first press conference on Monday afternoon at the Berlaymont, the "four-week negotiating model" is expected to give pace to talks and achieve results faster. "I am certain it is soluble".

"We will then publish a detailed paper outlining our offer on (next) Monday which I believe will form the right basis on which to reach agreement", he said.

The two men will meet for a week every month to negotiate, and use the time in between to "work on proposals".

"So now that the negotiations are started we are determined to get on with the jobs and deliver that certainty as soon as possible", he said. "We hope this regular rhythm will help us progress our discussions across the full range of issues very quickly", he added.

Both sides acknowledged the clock was ticking, with the date for the UK's departure from the European Union fixed for March 2019. There's a long way to go but we're off to a promising start.

Britain enters the negotiations with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May facing huge political challenges at home following an election which saw her Conservative party lose its majority in Parliament.

BRUSSELS-The U.K. and the European Union concluded their first day of negotiations over Britain's departure from the bloc with the EU securing its preferred timetable for the talks and divergent views immediately emerging over a divorce bill the EU is demanding from London.

Nearly exactly a year after Britain's seismic referendum to leave the bloc, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier of France, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a cheery handshake at the European Commission in Brussels.

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