Brexit talks to focus first on orderly exit

The meeting confirmed the EU's position that talks on the "future relationship", notably trade, would open only if "sufficient progress" was made in the priority issues, citizens rights, the financial settlement - the British Brexit bill, and the Irish Border.

The next set of talks will begin on July 17.

"We agreed on dates, organisation, and we agreed on priorities for the negotiations", Barnier said at a joint press conference with Davis.

A year after Britons shocked the continent by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main export market, new debate within Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet on precisely what kind of trading relationship to pursue has perplexed European Union leaders, who warn time is tight to agree terms before Britain leaves in 2019.

She had hoped to strengthen her government's hand in the negotiations by holding a snap election this month and solidifying the hold of her Conservative Party on the parliament. Britain wants to leave the common market and abjure free movement of European citizens across borders, yet still enjoy privileged market access. "Let's now, first of all, make progress in the field of citizens' rights and create legal certainty for both our people and our companies". "It's wholly illogical and we happen to think the wrong interpretation of the treaty", Davis said on ITV's "Peston on Sunday". "It would naturally be best if Britain didn't leave at all", he said.

For his part, and sounding conciliatory, Johnson said as he arrived at a meeting with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg that he looked forward to "a happy revolution" in relations that would be good for Britain and the rest of Europe.

But Davis, the British negotiator, told reporters Monday that he flatly rejected those offers.

But the point was effectively conceded before talks began, with Mr Davis yesterday accepting an European Union timetable set out last week, which makes clear trade will only be discussed once "sufficient progress" is made on citizenship, Northern Ireland and a "single financial settlement" of as much as £88 billion.

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.

The EU said it was also looking for a good compromise. Currently, more than 3 million European Union citizens live in Britain, and 1 million British citizens live in other parts of the EU.

In any event, the two sides reached no farther than the foothills of their climb.

Germany's deputy foreign minister, Michael Roth, told RBB Inforadio that "we must of course protect our interests as the European Union 27 but naturally we also don't want to punish Britain". That agreement, which largely put a stop to decades of sectarian violence, dissolved any visible signs of border between the two.

Since last year's June 23 referendum result, the sterling has fallen almost 14% against the U.S. dollar which has resulted in United Kingdom inflation nearing a four-year high along with clear signs that Britain's economy is slowing down. Ireland's leaders have warned that any new barriers could be a setback for peace. "I hope this is the first day of the beginning of the end and that we will be shot of this place very soon".

'No doubt the road ahead will be challenging but, as Winston Churchill once said: a pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty'.

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