United Kingdom accepts EU's timetable for Brexit negotiations

GETTY- STOCK IMAGEThe UK will continue to bask in sunshine

GETTY- STOCK IMAGEThe UK will continue to bask in sunshine

"For us it's not a question of generosity, it's a question of continuity and fairness", Stefaan De Rynck, a senior aide to chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, said at a seminar in Brussels.

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis (2L) and his delegation attend a meeting with European Commission member in charge of Brexit negotiations with Britain, Michel Barnier (2R) and his delegation at the start of Brexit negotiations at the European Commission in Brussels on June 19, 2017.

Solving the vexed question of keeping the peace and an open border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic - an European Union member - will be an urgent priority in the talks, Mr Barnier and Mr Davis agreed.

But the agreement appeared at odds with British Prime Minister Theresa May's earlier insistence that the divorce and the future relationship should be discussed in parallel.

Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britons voted previous year to end their country's four-decade membership in the 28-country bloc - the first nation ever to do so.

Britain's Finance Minister Philip Hammond on Tuesday pressed his case for a smooth Brexit that would avoid a damaging "cliff edge" for businesses, as the country headed out of the European Union.

His tone was less confrontational than that of Prime Minister Theresa May, who repeatedly said no deal with the European Union was better than a bad deal before she was weakened by failing to win a parliamentary majority in an election this month.

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

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

Tax experts have previously said that the outcome of the UK's general election on June 8, with the Conservative Party failing to secure a parliamentary majority, could weaken the UK's negotiating position in Brexit talks.

Hammond's comments come after tech entrepreneurs expressed their concerns that British startups could be damaged by the withdrawal of EIB funding following the country's decision to leave the EU.

After an initial exchange of diplomatic pleasantries, Barnier took advantage of Davis' weaker position, and seven hours of negotiations lead to the United Kingdom backing down on all fronts.

He characterised the first discussions as "very productive" and added: "We have laid a solid foundation for future discussions with an ambitious but eminently achievable timetable".

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

The two sides agreed to initially hold a week of negotiations every month until a new structure is defined.

It means the divorce terms will be set first, before discussions on future trade relations.

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