EU, Britain agree on timetable for Brexit talks

Mr Davis said he expected

At one point, officials took a short break to smile and pose for photographs holding gifts. Davis gave Barnier a book about hiking.

These include the issues of Britain's estimated €100 billion (S$175 billion) exit bill, the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain, and the fate of the border in Northern Ireland.

Britain has less than two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship before it is due to leave in late March 2019.

Following the first day talk Barnier said, "It was very important and useful to start off on the right foot as the clock is ticking".

Soros, in an article emailed to reporters, said economic reality was starting to catch up with a United Kingdom that voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union in a June 23 referendum, according to Reuters.

Uncertainty has dragged on following Britain's snap elections on June 8, in which the ruling Conservative Party of Prime Minister May not only failed to boost its parliamentary majority but actually lost it, and has had to enter talks for a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Mr Davis denied suggestions the agreed timetable showed Britain's "weakness" and insisted it is "completely consistent" with the Government's aim of parallel trade and exit talks.

But Germany hinted they would back a soft Brexit.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European said: "We believe that the withdrawal process can not be concluded without the future relationship also being taken into account".

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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. But critically it will also make clear the massive risks involved at every stage of this route and provide alternatives, so those who change their minds can return home. "But we are definitely ready for it because Europe is weaker without the British but I think the British would also be weaker without us Europeans".

That was, she told them, "a fair and serious offer", a British official said.

He also stuck to May's position that Britain will pursue a completely new trade agreement with the union.

Talks with the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier will focus on the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border.

There may be sticking points with Brussels, such as the cut-off date for European Union citizens in Britain to retain rights under the bloc's free movement rules and European Union demands to preserve a panoply of rights in the future that may irk those keen to reduce immigrant numbers.

Mr Barnier did not give a figure for how much the European Union will be demanding to settle the UK's outstanding budget commitments.

Davis said both sides were "off to a promising start" even though the challenges ahead were daunting.

Her said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time". Ireland's leaders have warned that any new barriers could be a setback for peace.

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