EU's Barnier Hopes to Remove Brexit Uncertainties as Talks Begin

Brexit talks begin as UK aims to strike a deal

A member of protocol changes the EU and British flags prior to the arrival of EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier and British Secretary of State David Davis at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, June 19, 2017.

The working language of the negotiations will be English and French, with interpretations provided by the European Commission.

Time and time again expat groups, politicians and think tanks have urged both sides in the talks to get on with discussing citizen rights to alleviate the anxiety of millions of people who have chosen to make their life in another country.

But May's mandate for a hard Brexit has since eroded after her Conservative party lost its parliamentary majority in the June 8 general election.

The BBC has been told by European Union sources that the talks will follow the EU's preferred pattern of exit negotiations first, with the future relations between the two sides - including the free trade deal the United Kingdom is seeking - at a later date.

The other priorities will be to agree a method to calculate the UK's financial and European Union budget commitments, and finding a solution that would avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

After a day of discussions, which both sides said had been constructive, Mr Davis and Mr Barnier announced a timetable and a structure to...

"And while there is a long road ahead, our destination is clear - a deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the EU".

He added that an orderly withdrawal was essential for both Britain and the EU.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

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

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted a year ago to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.

VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said in a statement that "the European Union and Great Britain must absolutely avoid being left without an agreement in two years".

The talks at the European Commission's headquarters kicked off just shy of a year after the Brexit referendum, when U.K. voters chose to leave the EU by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, and almost three months after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter formally triggering the withdrawal process.

First, "significant progress" would need to be made on the EU's priority issues, notably the rights of expatriate citizens and a settling financial accounts.

"On citizens, we hope that we can get a reasonably fast resolution".

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. The talks should be completed by April 2019, but could be extended if all 27 European Union countries agree. Britain has all but acknowledged that the talks will be phased: At a press conference in Paris with French president Emmanuel Macron last week, prime minister Theresa May referred to the "good process" set out by EU.

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