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David Davis "encouraged" by first Brexit meeting

24 Juin 2017

"I hope today we can identify priorities and a timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council (summit) later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations", added the former European commissioner and French foreign minister, speaking against a backdrop of British and EU flags.

"If you ask me are we going to make concessions, I must tell you that it is the United Kingdom that is leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and not the other way around", the former European commissioner and French foreign minister told a joint press conference with Davis.

Hammond's more frequent and pointed interventions in the Brexit debate have come amid mounting evidence that the economic situation in Britain has worsened just as it has gotten brighter for the rest of the EU.

Davis, a prominent tough-talking figure in the "Leave" campaign, sounded a positive note, saying that while there would "undoubtedly be challenging times ahead" he wanted a good relationship with the EU.

"For us it's not a question of generosity, it's a question of continuity and fairness", Stefaan De Rynck, a senior aide to chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, said at a seminar in Brussels.

"I am not in a frame of mind to make concessions, or ask for concessions".

"That is what I said to David today, that is why we will work all the time with the United Kingdom and never against the UK. That will be in our mutual interest, but we 27 will formulate our interests very clearly and hopefully together".

For other European Union countries, a Brexit negotiation based on EEA membership should be a perfectly acceptable, even welcome, outcome.

The UK has made a major concession on the first day of Brexit talks, accepting that a trade deal can only be discussed after a multi-billion pound "divorce bill" is settled. He said he views the talks with "informed optimism".

Barnier said his priority was to clear up the uncertainties that the Brexit vote had created. Davis has said Britain will not pay that much. There are roughly 3 million living there now. Such firms sold 7.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of goods to customers in Britain previous year, their fourth-biggest market.

Pour Merkel, l'avenir de l'UE à 27 prioritaire sur les négociations — Brexit
Non sans malice, Donald Tusk a même évoqué l'hypothèse selon laquelle le Royaume-Uni resterait, au bout du compte, dans l'UE. Elle s'est exprimée lors de son arrivée jeudi à un sommet de l'UE à Bruxelles.

"There is more that unites us than divides us", Britain's top negotiator, David Davis, told reporters Monday before the start of seven hours of discussions.

"We must think about the deep and meaningful partnership with Europe", he said.

They were briefed by Michel Barnier, who launched the Brexit negotiations for them on Monday, and discussed the move of two European Union agencies from London after Britain quits. Sixty-two percent said "yes", 17% "no", and 21% answered, "don't know".

He added that he aims to retain close ties with Britain's "allies and friends" in Europe. "We have spent the last 20 or 30 years trying to create a normalization of the relationship north and south on the island of Ireland and to make a peace process work".

"The elections were bad for May but I don't think the fundamental dynamics of the Brexit negotiations will change because of that", Stefan Auer, associate professor in European Studies at the University of Hong Kong, told CNBC on Monday.

Still, Johnson called on people to look at the more distant future.

Discussions aimed at preserving the Good Friday Agreement and common travel area in Ireland will begin, although Davis suggested these issues may not be settled until the end of the process, when the UK's trade relationship with the European Union is settled, the BBC reported.

Officials are hopeful that there can be swift progress on some areas of the border problem but Mr Davis acknowledged the issue as a whole "will take some considerable time".

Michel Barnier, an enthusiastic walker, presented Mr Davis with a hiking stick while the Brexit Secretary gave his counterpart a book on trekking. "And we want to try to solve the hard things as well as possible".

David Davis