Divorce bill focus of Brexit talks on Monday

Posted June 21, 2017

That follows preliminary talks last week between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and David Davis, Britain's secretary of state for exiting the European Union, in Brussels that ended Thursday.

Talks on Britain leaving the European Union began Monday with both sides saying they will focus first on an orderly withdrawal: a deal for citizens living in each other's territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain will pay to get out of previous EU commitments.

Before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal, the talks will first focus on three key divorce issues, including Britain's exit bill, estimated by Brussels at around €100 billion, the rights of three million EU nationals living in Britain and one million Britons on the continent, and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"While there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations we will do all that we can to ensure we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all of our citizens. We are clear this is what is set out in Article 50", the department said.

Finance minister Philip Hammond confirmed Sunday that it was still the plan to quit not only the EU but the customs union and the bloc's single market as well.

Following talks in Dublin with the new Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, she said that reaching a "sensible" Brexit had been the focus of their talks.

The Conservative source said this meant the party was "confident" it had enough votes for the programme to be approved, after May suffered a disastrous setback in snap elections a week ago that saw her lose her majority in the 650-seat House of Commons, just ahead of crucial Brexit negotiations with Brussels. Only after that, in December at the earliest, but more likely next year, can negotiations commence on what Britain's future relationship with the bloc will look like.

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Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain past year voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first country ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.

Davis, a prominent "Leave" campaigner in the referendum, said he was approaching the talks in a "constructive way", knowing they will be "difficult at points".

"It would be an EU without special requests, without discounts, without unnecessary complexity, but with more European responsibilities", Mr Verhofstadt told Welt am Sonntag. "As the European Union has itself said, 'nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed, '" they added.

Following tomorrow's meeting, talks will continue on a monthly basis throughout the summer.

"If we're going to radically change the way we work together, we need to get there via a slope, not via a cliff edge", he said. We keep hearing that they don't want a 'Norway model, ' they don't want a 'Swiss model, ' they want to leave the customs union, the internal market, they want to limit migration.

The talks also gave her the opportunity to try to reassure the other parties that a tie-up with the DUP would not compromise Britain's impartiality in the delicate Northern Ireland peace process.

Mr Barnier's insistence on sticking to the EU's priorities for the negotiations comes after Mr Davis appeared to soften his stance on the schedule for the talks.