NPA reiterates its priorities as Brexit talks begin

At the first formal Brexit negotiations Monday, Britain accepted the EU's timetable that the exit bill, citizens' rights and the Northern Ireland border be settled before its request for a free trade deal be considered.

Brussels has been dismissive of May's call for sweeping and quick guarantees for expats, including over a million Britons on the continent, and says only detailed legal texts can reassure and take account of complex, multinational family situations.

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, known by its German initials VDMA, says that that goal of the two-year negotiating process is "damage limitation" because Brexit won't benefit either side.

"We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit", Barnier said, citing the rights of European Union citizens in Britain and the possible impact on the open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The UK has now agreed to enter talks on divorce proceedings, including Britain's exit bill and the border with Northern Ireland, before any talks on future trading relations can begin.

On the opening day of the two-day leader's summit, the European Union announced agreements on extending sanctions against Russian Federation and on fighting climate change.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said the negotiations which should lead to a breakup by March 2019 "must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit — first for citizens, but also for the beneficiaries of the European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland". "I look forward to working closely with you during this negotiation", EU negotiator Barnier said, as quoted by the press service of the European Commission, the EU's executive. He said: "I am not a dreamer".

Britain's departure in 2019 will cause the European Union to lose one of its biggest members and a global player, but the other European Union nations were already looking at some of the spoils of the divorce.

Macron said Thursday that "Europe is not, to my mind, just an idea". We also agreed on how we will structure our talks.

Mr Davis said, "Ever since the referendum, I have been clear that my first priority is to provide certainty to European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom, and to UK citizens resident in the European Union - and I know Michel shares that aspiration too. It is unfair that they should be left to shoulder this responsibility alone", he told the leaders.

Barnier however said that "a fair deal is possible and is far better than no deal - that is what I said to David today".

But one Western diplomat from a non-EU country said it was hard to see how some members would be open to fruitful discussions.

Billionaire currency trader George Soros has said Britain is approaching a tipping point that could see the economy slow to such an extent that Brexit might even be reversed, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Britain's political instability has caused concerns in European capitals hoping to get the negotiations over with quickly and cleanly, as has May's oft-repeated threat to walk away from the talks without a deal if necessary.

After nearly a year of waffling, Britain on Monday finally opens negotiations with its European Union counterparts about leaving the bloc, with the final outcome, due in 2019, as important as it now seems unpredictable.

Two foiled terrorist attacks this week alone put renewed focus on EU-wide efforts to improve counter-terrorism measures.

  • Leroy Wright