While the United Kingdom has said repeatedly that it wants out of the EU’s single market and customs union – which offers tariff-free access to the EU, but requires countries to cede power to make their own trade deals – the DUP’s manifesto says it wants a customs agreement and “arrangements to facilitate ease of movement of people, goods and services”.
As required by the European Union, negotiations will start with the divorce itself, and when “sufficient progress” has been achieved, they will move onto discussing the future relationship between the bloc and the UK.
Barnier said the two sides will have one week of negotiation every month, and use the time in between to work on proposals and exchange them. There’s a long way to go but we’re off to a promising start.
In short press statements, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he hoped Monday’s discussions can “identify priorities and timetable that would allow me to report…that we had a constructive opening of negotiations”.
The bloc would first seek to reach an agreement on European Union citizens rights, the UK’s departure bill, and the future border between the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, and Northern Ireland, a British region. They both served as Europe ministers – for France and Britain, respectively – at the same time during the 1990s.
The next set of talks will begin on July 17.
Describing the negotiation as exceptional, Barnier denied to give further details on how he will secure the transparency of talks. Instead of having a slim majority in Parliament, May’s Conservative Party lost 13 seats, and with it their majority power.
European Union leaders meet in Brussels later this week, where they will be briefed on the talks.
They said discussions would be split into three stages: citizen rights, the single financial settlement and other separation issues.
“The protection of the Good Friday agreement and the maintenance of the Common Travel Area are the most urgent issues to discuss”, said Barnier, adding that “concrete and imaginative” solutions will be required to control goods and services without creating a hard border. The top European Union negotiator, Michel Barnier, a former foreign minister of France, gave Davis a walking stick from his home region in the Alps.
Mr Barnier said a “fair deal” was possible “and far better than no deal” and promised to work with, not against, the UK.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Sunday’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper that “maybe there is now a chance to achieve a so-called “soft Brexit.'” But he said staying in the single market would require Britain to accept European Union workers” freedom of movement. Mr Davis said the United Kingdom would next week present its offer on citizen rights.
“In the first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues”. 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”.
‘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’.