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United Kingdom seeks progress on citizens' rights as Brexit talks resume

18 July 2017

Pictures from Monday's start of negotiations in Brussels that showed Britain's Brexit minister facing his European Union counterpart without notes or paperwork prompted jibes from critics who say a divided government is woefully unprepared for the process.

"We made a good start last month, and this week we'll be getting into the real substance", Davis said on July 16.

Asides from the exit bill, the four-day negotiation will focus on citizens' rights and the border in Northern Ireland, among other issues.

The two hope there will be sufficient progress on those issues this summer so that talks on a future relationship between the two can start in October or November.

Barnier said, "We will now delve into the heart of the matter", before the two sat down for a first meeting flanked by the officials who will lead the detailed negotiations.

At a brief press conference with Mr Barnier earlier in the morning, the Brexit secretary said that this week's talks would delve "into the substance of the matter", include discussions on Britain's European Union exit bill and citizens rights.

David Davis smiles as Michel Barnier talks at the start of Brexit talks
Video Davis Let's get down to business

"And now it's time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation".

"As we negotiate to leave the European Union, we are seeking the best possible deal for the United Kingdom, one that gives citizens and businesses as much certainty as possible". The EU has publicized its preferred agenda, which includes the settlement of issues including citizens' rights and financial obligations, before discussions turn to trade agreements.

Davis and Barnier spent only a half-hour in negotiations Monday, and photographs from the talks featured bulging files of papers on Barnier's side of the table and little evidence on Davis'. The EU has demanded Britain to pay some 60 billion euros (70 billion US dollars) as exit fee.

Dozens of officials from both sides are involved, some shuttling among meeting rooms scattered over almost half the floors of the European Commission's 13-storey Berlaymont headquarters, fuelled, one said, by EU coffee and biscuits.

The depth of division among Prime Minister Theresa May's ministers was highlighted over the weekend as Hammond was accused of using the Treasury to "frustrate" the Brexit process.

The former diplomat also highlighted the importance of domestic policy on Brexit, especially regarding the Great Repeal Bill the Government has promised to deliver to ensure "legal continuity" after the divorce becomes effective.

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United Kingdom seeks progress on citizens' rights as Brexit talks resume