Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Britain still questions Brexit payment idea


Davis insisted that talks about trade would occur "in parallel", but Barnier said they would start only in a second phase.

Dr Fox said: "Our valuable talks underlined the shared interest in forging a closer trade and economic relationship including making progress on policy co-ordination, regulatory issues and expanding trade and investment between our economies".

Brexit Secretary David Davis starts negotiations in Brussels on Monday that will set the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union and determine its relationship with the continent for generations to come.

Mr Davis, looking slightly more windswept than his flinty European colleague after the day's talks, brushed off the idea Britain's negotiating stance could change given political instability in the United Kingdom, with Prime Minister Theresa May seeking support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

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Three negotiating groups will address agreed priorities on citizens' rights, finances and other technical matters which must be resolved to avoid a messy limbo after Brexit.

That financial issue is already a bone of contention, as is Brussels' refusal to discuss a new free trade deal until after it is resolved.

Though less visibly upbeat than veteran Brexit campaigner Davis, Barnier insisted the two sides would work together for a "fair deal" that would not "punish" Britain.

The UK has now agreed to enter talks on divorce proceedings, including Britain's exit bill and the border with Northern Ireland, before any talks on future trading relations can begin.

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"So, we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decisions. So my mind is not on making concessions or asking for concessions". European Union diplomats hope this first meeting, and a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where May will encounter - but not negotiate with - fellow European Union leaders, can improve the atmosphere after some spiky exchanges.

In a sign of the progress that has been made, Mr Davis said the Prime Minister would brief fellow European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday on the UK's approach to the rights of expatriate citizens, which will be set out in detail in a paper on Monday.

As with Monday's seven hours of meetings between Barnier, Davis and their teams, her emphasis is expected to be on easing tensions that have seen some spiky exchanges in recent months.

For his part Mr Barnier presented Mr Davis with a hiking stick. "And so bridging between Churchill and Monnet, I am certainly a determined optimist".

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