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

The who, what and when of Brexit negotiations

The who, what and when of Brexit negotiations

Brexit Secretary David Davis appears to have conceded to European Union demands during the first day of historic talks, by agreeing to a "two-phased" negotiation.

The British and EU Brexit negotiators agreed how to organize talks on Britain's divorce at a first meeting in Brussels on Monday, where both sides stressed goodwill but also the huge complexity and tight deadline.

At stake in hugely complex talks that are expected to conclude by March 2019 is not just Britain's future but a western political order that would be badly shaken by a failure to reach a deal.

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.

A key issue he did not mention was the EU's bill for Britain to leave, which Brussels estimates at a colossal 100 billion euros.

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And he added: "We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves and our European allies and friends for the future".

"The United Kingdom's political tectonic plates are moving at the very moment when we are negotiating Brexit", said Anand Menon, professor of politics at King's College London. Mr Barnier quoted one of the EU's founding fathers, Jean Monnet, saying in French: "Ce qui est important, ce n'est, ni d'être optimiste, ni pessimiste, mais d'être détermine". But the unexpected weak performance has left her battling to unite both wings of the Conservative Party - those who want a so-called "hard Brexit" and those who did not want to leave the European Union in the first place. "That will be in our mutual interest, but we 27 will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully together".

But the turmoil of the euro zone crisis, fears in Britain about immigration and a series of miscalculations by former Prime Minister David Cameron prompted Britain to vote by 52 to 48 percent for Brexit in a June 23 referendum previous year.

"In the first step we will deal with the most pressing issues".

Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019. However the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, lost her absolute majority.

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May's election debacle has revived feuding over Europe among Conservatives that her predecessor David Cameron hoped to end by calling the referendum and leaves European Union leaders unclear on her plan for a "global Britain" which a lot of them regard as pure folly. Davis said she will tell them about plans to guarantee rights for some 3 million European Union citizens in Britain under a proposal to be made next week.

Mr Barnier said: "It's about reciprocity it's about continuity it's about non-discrimination and we started work on that today".

Many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home, still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire.

"When I talk about a Brexit that supports British jobs, British investment and British business I mean a Brexit that avoids those cliff edges", Hammond said in an interview with BBC television.

Working groups will discuss aspects of the negotiations in the afternoon before a final meeting between Mr Davis and Mr Barnier.

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