Brexit talks with European Commission to begin on Monday

Ivan Schwartz
June 18, 2017

"We are just about to start the negotiation".

Prime Minister Theresa May's government has bowed to European Union demands to focus the initial stage of Brexit talks on the terms of the UK's departure rather than trying to arrange a future trade relationship at the same time, according to two EU officials with knowledge of the preparations.

The Conservatives are still negotiating with the Democratic Unionist Party over whether their 10 MPs will support the Tories' minority government.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier and the UK's Brexit minister, David Davis, will meet in Brussels on Monday (19 June), kicking off negotiations likely to take nearly two years.

With Scotland poised to trigger a second referendum, and the threat of renewed hostilities in Ireland at the prospect of a hard border between Northern and southern Ireland - could Brexit spell the end of the United Kingdom?

Talks about talks are expected to continue among diplomats and civil servants. "We set out very clearly our desired outcome in the prime minister's Lancaster House speech and in the article 50 letter that we've sent", he said.

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"If they refuse to pay, there will be no agreement", a senior official handling Brexit for one European Union member state government told Reuters.

"We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account", the spokesman said.

There are also differences over the other priority issue for Brussels - securing the rights of 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain - but diplomats see those as less problematic.

"And as we go into that negotiation, my clear view and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain is we should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiation and taking them forward".

The agenda for the opening day of talks begins at 11 a.m. with an introductory session involving Barnier, the U.K.'s Brexit Secretary David Davis and officials.

If Davis, who launches the formal negotiations with Barnier on Monday, can show British willing on the EU's priority "Phase One" issues, then trade talks could get under way by the turn of the year - a step-by-step timetable Barnier says must be followed to limit the risk of a disruptive "no deal" scenario.

Other reports by GizPress

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