German lobby calls for fast Brexit deal on trade

United Kingdom negotiator David Davis and the EU's Barnier have one key issue over the first weeks of talks: building trust after months of haggling over leaks and figures over the final bill that Britain would have to pay for leaving.

Davis, a veteran Eurosceptic, told Barnier that his team aimed to maintain a "positive and constructive tone" during the talks.

"We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit", Barnier said.

As well as Britain's exit bill and citizens' rights, the other tricky early issue will be how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.

Davis said the talks were off to a "promising start" and denied that Britain had caved in on the sequencing of the talks.

Davis, noting shared security threats for governments across Europe hours after a van rammed worshippers at a London mosque, said: "There is more that unites us than divides us".

Roth said that "Brexit is a very, very hard operation" and there's only a bit over a year to negotiate it. Barnier said that while it was not about "punishment" or "revenge", the consequences of the UK's decision to leave the European Union were "substantial" and ought not to be underestimated.

Mrs May will brief fellow European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday on the UK's approach, which will be set out in a paper on Monday, Mr Davis revealed.

While the European Union negotiating team led by Michel Barnier has been ready for months, Britain stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

The EU said it was also looking for a good compromise.

Threats by Britain to walk away without a deal have also anxious European capitals. Before the Tories' election debacle, the Brexit secretary threatened to play hardball with Brussels, vowing to resist the EU's timetable of deferring trade talks until after progress was made on the divorce.

But instead she lost her parliamentary majority, putting that hard-line approach and her political future in doubt after the disastrous June 8 election.

Earlier, before talks kicked off, the two men exchanged gifts - in a possible acknowledgement that the negotiations may at times be an uphill struggle, the presents were appropriately mountaineering themed.

VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said in a statement that "the European Union and Great Britain must absolutely avoid being left without an agreement in two years".

Last year's Brexit vote came as a profound shock to Brussels against a backdrop of rising anti-EU sentiment, with many - including now US President Donald Trump - predicting the bloc's eventual break-up.

And at a final news conference they traded quotes from their respective nations' history: Barnier cited European Union founding father Jean Monnet to say: "I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic".

He insisted there was much "common ground" and that the timetable for withdrawal was "ambitious, but eminently achievable".

The head of the biggest group in the European Parliament says that what Britain wants out of the Brexit talks is a mystery as negotiations get underway. It has led to calls from within the Conservative Party and business community for a softer Brexit where the mantra of "no deal is better than a bad deal" is laid to rest and the focus shifts to the economy and jobs with some calling for the United Kingdom to remain in both the single market and the customs union.

  • Leroy Wright