Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

European Union officials seek sense of urgency as Brexit bargaining begins

Even as London feuds Brexit negotiations take place in Brussels Even as London feuds Brexit negotiations take place in Brussels
Christy Curtis | 17 July, 2017, 16:34

"I look forward to our negotiations this week", said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, while giving a "warm welcome" to his United Kingdom counterpart, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.

Negotiators will focus their talks on key issues, with Britain's exit bill as the core.

Without "significant progress" on all three priorities in the divorce, Barnier warns, European Union leaders will not let Davis open talks on a free trade relationship, which May and much of British business want to have ready by the time Britain leaves.

Citizens' rights, Northern Ireland, the Brexit bill, and separation issues will be discussed this week.

'For us it is incredibly important we now make good progress, ' he said.

The Brexit Secretary said progress had to be made this month on a deal for reciprocal rights for citizens.

Barnier, who has repeatedly called on weakened British Prime Minister Theresa May to quickly set out her divorce strategy, said they needed to "examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress".

On Saturday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, however, that European Union leaders would be willing to change their rules on immigration and free movement to enable Britain to stay in the 28-nation trading and economic bloc. The EU remains uncertain about whether British negotiators will be able to conclude an agreement, amid deep political divides in the government on Brexit.

Twice in as many days, newspapers ran hostile stories about Hammond from last week's cabinet meeting, leaked by other ministers at the table.

"We made a good start last month but. we are now getting into the substance of the matter", Davis told reporters as he was welcomed at the European Commission in Brussels by Barnier, a little more than a year after Britons voted by a narrow majority to leave the EU. The EU reportedly wants Britain to pay from $70 billion to more than $110 billion to cover ongoing EU budget commitments, an amount the British have rejected.

If you want my opinion, some of the noise is generated by people who are not happy with the agenda which I, over the last few weeks, have tried to advance of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit which is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs, and making sure that we have continued rising living standards in the future, he said in a TV interview.

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