Britain, EU kick off Brexit negotiations


Britain, EU kick off Brexit negotiations

The U.K. and the European Union started talks on Britain's exit from the bloc Monday morning, nearly a year after the U.K. voted to leave, with EU chief negotiator saying he hoped the two sides can start removing the uncertainties created by that decision.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said the negotiations which should lead to a breakup by March 2019 "must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit - first for citizens, but also for the beneficiaries of the European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland".

Au contraire, said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, who made clear that Britain first must leave the union, then talk about terms of their future relationship.

"We will do all that we can to ensure that we will deliver a deal that works in the best interest of all citizens", added Davis at the Berlaymont VIP corner.

The EU says it will not compromise on its core "four freedoms": free movement of goods, capital, services and workers.

It will test the ingenuity of thousands of public servants racing against the clock to untangle 44 years of European Union membership before Britain is out, 649 days from now, on March 30, 2019.

Barnier said the two sides will have one week of negotiation every month, and use the time in between to work on proposals and exchange them.

Many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home, 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 Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz added: "One can not prolong indefinitely the state we're in; Brexit must be dealt with".

More broadly, Brexit talks will have to address a range of regulatory issues, including laws about worker rights, climate and agriculture.

Putting a "free trade deal" in place and a building a "deep and special partnership with our friends" in Europe was at the heart of the government's negotiations, he said, as he called for people in Britain to "look to the future".

"I think the whole process will lead to a happy resolution which can be done with honour and profit to both sides", Johnson said as he went into a separate meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg.

"In the first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues".

Sounding conciliatory, Britain's Boris Johnson said as he arrived at a meeting with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg that he looked forward to "a happy revolution" in relations that would be good for Britain and the rest of Europe. "Our Government should seize the initiative and tell the European Union how Britain is going to leave, not ask it how it might be done".

"Over the coming weeks and months, the United Kingdom government must demonstrate how it is working to address the everyday considerations of British companies in the talks - who can they hire, whether their goods will be stopped at borders, and whether they will have to cope with extra costs".