Merkel urges European Union to stick together after Brexit talks launched

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 consequences are substantial".

"He said that we do not want to end up with a bad deal, it is not our objective to do that, we want to see that this works well".

Barnier made clear on Tuesday that while there must be a first phase that excludes trade discussions, he does hope that four weeks of monthly negotiating sessions can get him to the point where he can ask European Union leaders in October to let him move on and discuss how the two sides can keep commerce open from 2019.

The UK is instead aiming to use the two-year Brexit process to secure a free trade agreement with Europe.

Nearly a year after British voters took the decision to leave the bloc, Davis took a team of officials to open the negotiations with Barnier in the European Commission's Berlaymont building on Monday.

Davis had claimed that the issue of "sequencing" - the order and nature of Brexit negotiations - would "be the row of the summer". The U.K. and European Union hope the first phase of talks focusing on the exit terms will conclude by October, allowing trade negotiations to begin. But it must be done in a way that works for Britain.

Asked to clarify a remark he made after Monday's opening of talks about not making concessions to Britain, he played it down as a statement of the obvious not to concede arguments at the outset and all the more so because his meeting with Britain's David Davis in Brussels did not launch talks on substance. "In a way that prioritizes British jobs, and underpins Britain's prosperity".

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Adding to the complexity is Britain's current political situation, as May lost her Conservative majority in parliament after a snap election, sparking wide criticism of her leadership and worries about how long May and her cabinet would stay in power.

These include the issues of Britain's estimated €100 billion (S$175 billion) exit bill, the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain, and the fate of the border in Northern Ireland.

The two negotiators already know each other well. They tried to present a cordial and friendly image to the world at their first session.

Davis gave Barnier an original, French-language account of an expedition to the Himalayas, while Barnier reciprocated with a traditional walking stick from his home region of Savoie.

Despite the diplomatic pleasantries, the scale of the challenge quickly became clear, as both men openly acknowledged the risk that the talks could become dangerously overheated. "There will be no hostility on my side".

May's position in her own government is looking very insecure. The discussions come at a time when the United Kingdom government is in a minority position in the Commons and will be reliant on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party to gain a slender overall majority of two.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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