Britain, EU launch new talks on Brexit

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May smiles before a meeting with Spain's King Felipe in 10 Downing Street in central London

Britain and the European Union (EU) launch a new round of Brexit negotiations here on Monday as conflicting views on "divorce" terms cast shadow on the resumption of talks and a feasible deal seems rather hard to reach for now.

"We made a good start last month, and this week we'll be getting into the real substance", Davis said in a statement released by his office.

He pointed to four categories where they needed to make progress on: "The issue of citizens' rights, the issue of finance, of separation and of course, separately, Northern Ireland".

The two hope there will be sufficient progress on those issues this summer so that talks on a future relationship between the two can start in October or November.

"The European Parliament will reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens less favourably than they are at present", the letter said.

Without "significant progress" on all three priorities in the divorce, Barnier warns, European Union leaders will not let Davis open talks on a free trade relationship, which May and much of British business want to have ready by the time Britain leaves.




Mr Barnier told the watching media they would not be taking questions, saying they must wait until Thursday when the round of talks end, adding: "Now we have to work". Last week the government admitted there would have to be a financial settlement, despite Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claiming the European Union could "go whistle" for the money.

More than a year after the Brexit referendum, some still argue that it would be in Britain's interests to remain in the European Union, and retain the benefits of free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

These talks focus on Britain's arrangements to leave the EU. The EU had demanded that Britain pay some 60 billion euros (R896-billion) as exit fee.

This week's talks are also set to address more detailed concerns such as Britain's future in Euratom, the EU's nuclear safety agency, and the role of the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court.

But in London there was fresh turmoil as weakened Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to urge her warring ministers to end damaging leaks against each other over Brexit.

Davis and Barnier spent only a half-hour in negotiations Monday, and photographs from the talks featured bulging files of papers on Barnier's side of the table and little evidence on Davis'.

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