Brexit talks to focus first on orderly exit

Who are the key players in the Brexit negotiations

"A deal like no other in history", Davis said in a statement as he headed into the talks.

May officially triggered the two-year Brexit process in March when she was riding high in opinion polls, and called for fresh elections shortly afterwards to shore up her mandate for a tough Brexit stance.

Still, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remained upbeat Monday and thinks that the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honour for both sides".

Macron, a committed pro-EU leader and ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, easily won French legislative elections on Sunday, cementing his power base. Almost all of the citizens in wealthy northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands have traveled within the EU, and more than 65% of their citizens go to another EU country at least once a year.

But while citizens' rights and the UK's financial settlement with the European Union will be left to technical teams of officials, "a dialogue on Ireland/Northern Ireland has been launched under the authority of the Co-ordinators", according to the terms of reference for Brexit talks.

Davis insisted that talks about trade would occur "in parallel", but Barnier said they would start only in a second phase. 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.While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.

Davis gave Brussels' chief negotiator a book on mountaineering - an account of a French expedition to the Himalayas - while Barnier presented Davis with a traditional carved wood hiking stick from his home region of Savoie. As it happened, May lost her majority, is in the process of forming a shaky "confidence and supply" arrangement with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the Queen's Speech is yet to go ahead.

"I can't say whether there is a chance of that happening", Gabriel said Monday at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

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.

But as Europe grows more confident in its future following the election victory in France of pro-E.U. But Switzerland also accepts the principle of freedom of movement for European Union citizens.

Unresolved is everything from the status of European Union citizens living in Britain, to intelligence sharing, to the future of tens of thousands of British jobs that could be wiped out if businesses move to Europe to avoid new trade barriers.

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.

Brexit negotiations which could define the UK's political and economic future have begun, with David Davis calling for a "new deep and special partnership" between Britain and Brussels.

"The pessimist see difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty".

This first meeting will last just a day with a joint news conference expected by both Mr Davis and his opposite number Michel Barnier at the end of the day. "And so bridging between Churchill and Monnet, I am certainly a determined optimist".

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