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So it begins: Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

19 June 2017

"Our objective is clear", he added.

"We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit: first for citizens but also for beneficiaries of European Union policies and the impact on borders - in particular Ireland", said Barnier.

Britain's Brexit minister David Davis said London wanted a deep and special relationship with the European Union after the divorce and that he would conduct the talks in a constructive tone.

An increasingly concerned European Union has been pushing London to hurry up, with time running out for a deal and three months already passed since May triggered the two-year Article 50 European Union exit process.

Brexit negotiations start on Monday, with question marks over Britain's approach after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in an election meant to strengthen her hand in the talks.

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European People's Party caucus leader Manfred Weber told German radio station Bayern 2 Monday: "Our big problem is that we have no picture, no idea at all what the British want".

While Davis said he hopes to achieve "a deal like no other deal in history", the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, Manufacturers' Organisation (EEF), Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors warned the government it must consider the interests of United Kingdom business during the talks.

"Now, the hard work begins", Davis said, adding he wanted a deal that worked for both sides.

The most senior officials coordinating the negotiations, Sabine Weyand, who is the European commission's deputy chief negotiator, and Olly Robbins, the permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, will also meet in the afternoon.

Before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal, the talks will first focus on three key divorce issues, including Britain's exit bill, estimated by Brussels at around €100 billion, the rights of three million EU nationals living in Britain and one million Britons on the continent, and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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Reflecting on Britain's longtime European Union membership, Davis says that "there is more that unites us than divides us" despite the June 23, 2016 referendum in which Britain chose to break away from the 27 other member nations. But the disastrous outcome of the June 8 snap election, which left her without a majority in the House of Commons, has raised doubts over whether she will even be able to see the two-year process through.

Davis, who flew in from London on Monday morning, is expected to leave Brussels shortly after the talks for another meeting in Europe, leaving little opportunity for engagement outside the formal context of the negotiations.

"The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon". Gabriel and Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern have voiced sharp criticism of the latest US sanctions against Moscow, Thursday, June 15, 2017, because they could affect European businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas to Europe.

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