Talks begin over British divorce from European Union

Brexit: BCC calls for government to put economy first in negotiations

Nearly exactly a year after Britain's seismic referendum to leave the bloc, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier of France, welcomed his counterpart David Davis with a cheery handshake at the European Commission in Brussels.

Michel Barnier, the French negotiator for the European Union, and Britain's Brexit envoy David Davis marked the formal start of negotiations by, effectively, telling each other to take a hike.

Theresa May said political unity was integral for Britain to exit from the EU.

Previously, Davis had vowed to make the scheduling issue the "row of the summer".

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.

"It's not when it starts it's how it finishes that matters", he said.

"On citizens, we hope that we can get a reasonably fast resolution". He said he views the talks with "informed optimism". It left an image of a dysfunctional Britain coming up against a well-oiled European Union negotiating machine.

"It was clear from the opening that both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership".

The association represents 3,200 businesses with a million employees in Germany making industrial machinery.

European Union officials say narrowing differences over the payment, for which both sides agreed on Monday to set up a working group of negotiators, will be a major test for the forthcoming talks.

"A deal like no other in history", Davis said in a statement as he headed into the talks.

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The other priorities will be to agree a method to calculate the UK's financial and European Union budget commitments, and finding a solution that would avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

A terms-of-reference document agreed by the EU's Michel Barnier and Britain's Brexit Minister David Davis said further talks would be held in the weeks starting on July 17, August 28, September 18 and October 9.

Macron, a committed pro-EU leader and ally of Merkel, also easily won French legislative elections on Sunday, cementing his power base.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show Hammond said he had change the fiscal targets of his predecessor George Osborne which created "a lot more flexibility to respond to the situation on the ground.' Adding though that the country still needed to 'live within our means".

He said that's essentially putting jobs and the economy ahead of immigration which is a contentious issue for Britain. They should finally tell us what the aim is. "The United Kingdom is going to leave the European Union, single market and the customs union, not the other way around", Barnier said.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says: "If we don't succeed both sides will lose".

But the Brussels chief negotiator also made clear he was not planning on giving ground to Britain.

Johnson called on people to look at the more distant future.

There are widespread questions over whether Britain may soften its Brexit goals outlined before the election, which include taking the United Kingdom out of the EU's single market for goods and services and the bloc's customs union.

The Irish issue, long described as a priority for both, will be treated somewhat differently; avoiding a "hard border" will necessarily have to take account of how the rest of EU-UK trade will work.

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