The Brexit talks officially start today, (June 19 2017) with the UK Brexit Secretary David Davis meeting the chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier at the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters.
Responding to Barnier’s call to “tackle the uncertanties caused by Brexit“, Davis said that “there is more that unites us than divides us”, between the United Kingdom and its “closest allies in Europe”.
“I hope that today we can identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations”.
Brexit talks beginning Monday will lead to a positive outcome for both Britain and the European Union, British foreign minister Boris Johnson said.
May’s government said it was “confident it can achieve a bold and ambitious deal that will work in the interest of the whole U.K”.
“We are. determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends”, Davis said before the talks. He and Davis are due to give a joint news conference in the evening.
“For me, it is above all about the EU27 proceeding together and listening carefully to Britain’s wishes and expectations”, Merkel said after meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
With a further million British expatriates in the EU, May too wants a deal on citizens’ rights, though the two sides are some way apart.
The Brexit Secretary said: “The position hasn’t changed, we have the Lancaster House speech, the two white papers, and the Article 50 letter, all backed up by a manifesto too.
We will be fighting for all of these issues and for a final say when the talks are resolved”.
European Union diplomats hope this first meeting and a summit in Brussels later this week, where May will be present but will not negotiate with European Union leaders, can improve the atmosphere after recent spiky comments from both sides.
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. The Irish issue, long described as a priority for both, will be treated somewhat differently; avoiding a “hard border” will necessarily have to take account of how the rest of EU-UK trade will work.
“The elections were awful for May but I don’t think the fundamental dynamics of the Brexit negotiations will change because of that”, Stefan Auer, associate professor in European Studies at the University of Hong Kong, told CNBC on Monday.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond weighed into the debate on Sunday, as he said that the Government is sticking to its plans to leave both the single market and customs union. For the officials sitting down on Monday, at least on the European Union side, a major worry is Britain crashing out into a limbo, with no deal.
But some aspects of this might prove controversial with the British government and public, including the idea that EU citizens should retain their right to have a non-EU spouse join them in Britain, and the demand that the EU courts should oversee the rights of EU citizens in Britain.
“You still have those in the Conservative party hell-bent on a hard Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn is smelling power and doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping out – quite the opposite”, they said.