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A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started

20 June 2017

Brexit negotiations have finally begun, with Brexit Secretary David Davis acknowledging there would be would be "challenging times ahead" as he met the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier for the formal start of the talks.

Protection of the benefits of free trade agreements now extended to the United Kingdom through its European Union membership.

Today marks the beginning of talks between the United Kingdom government and the European Union negotiating team on Brexit, with signs that both sides are willing to compromise.

Negotiations start exactly one year after Britain shocked the world by voting to exit the European Union and almost three months since Prime Minister Theresa May locked the country into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019.

The Conservatives have been in negotiations with the DUP since Mrs May lost her Commons majority in the General Election earlier this month.

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Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day. May herself will be in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a regular summit with fellow European Union leaders.

Brexit Secretary David Davis starts negotiations in Brussels on Monday that will set the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union and determine its relationship with the continent for generations to come.

"We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends", he said.

"Even if we are forced to leave the Single Market, retaining membership of the Customs Union remains an absolute priority for my organisation, as it does across the agricultural sector". "The United Kingdom has made a decision to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around". The leaders are also likely to shape more clarity on the UK-EU relationship post the exit and the nature of trade deals between them.

"This is a technically hard issue, but it is one which I am certain is solvable although it will probably take us to the end of the process when we will have decided what our customs and free trade arrangements are".

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The smiles belied the fact that at stake is not just Britain's future but also Europe's postwar political order and its place in the world, which could be fatally undermined without an agreement by the March 2019 deadline.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is considered one of the driving forces behind the European Union, said on Monday that she hoped negotiations would secure a "good agreement" for both parties but reiterated the unity of remaining member states.

In a joint document released by the British government, the negotiators said they had established initial groups to talk on citizens' rights, the financial settlement for Britain's departure and other issues regarding the separation.

"So we're getting on with that, I and the Government are getting on with that job".

"We want to leave the door open to the British", German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper in remarks published Sunday.

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The information contained in this document was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy or completeness can not be guaranteed.

A look at what is ahead now that Brexit talks have started