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European Union says divorce bill, citizens' rights focus of Brexit talks

European Union says divorce bill, citizens' rights focus of Brexit talks

Britain and the European Union will start less than two years of Brexit negotiations on Monday despite Prime Minister Theresa May still short of confirming her minority government following her election fiasco.

A spokesperson for the UK's Brexit department said it expected both phases of the negotiations "to be agreed alongside each other", but did not deny that the talks would focus initially on divorce issues, including agreeing the UK's financial obligations.

"The fact they are coming and that they agree to talk about the subjects that we set out, shows that the clash is under control", a senior European official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Besides forging a deal to keep her job and preparing for Brexit talks, May is grappling with a crisis over the breakdown in power-sharing between the pro-British DUP and the Catholic nationalist Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland's separate, devolved government.

"We want to see a Brexit that works for everybody, not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective but in the Republic of Ireland as well, so it is about a sensible Brexit", Foster told reporters.

They will hold more than seven hours of official talks.

"Michel Barnier, the European Commission's Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, agreed today to launch Article 50 negotiations on Monday, 19 June", writes the common statement of the European Commission and the European Council, after an agreement with Barnier's counterpart was reached. "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

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May's strategy was thrown into confusion by last week's election in which she squandered her Conservative Party's parliamentary majority.

"From a European point of view, as long as the negotiations are not over, there is still a possibility to change the course of events", Macron said on Tuesday after talks with May.

In Luxembourg, Britain's finance minister said that protecting jobs and the economy should be the main focus in upcoming discussions.

Speaking as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Luxembourg, he said: "As we go into that negotiation, my clear view - and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain - is that we should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward".

"We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account", the spokesman said.

He wouldn't be drawn on whether he supported Britain's continued membership of the single market or the customs union.


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