Britain, EU begin formal Brexit talks

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The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that a "fair deal" was positive and promised a "constructive attitude" to the talks.

European Union officials and diplomats greeted the agreement of Brexit Secretary Davis to a format and sequencing of talks that had been proposed by Barnier as sign that British Prime Minister Theresa May's weakened and potentially divided government was bending to Brussels' insistence on how negotiations will work.

Those were, he said, the rights of expatriate citizens and problems of a new EU-UK border, notably cutting across Ireland. A day after the start of Brexit talks, Hammond sought to soften the more confrontational tone towards the bloc taken by Prime Minister Theresa May - a role he has re-adopted since her election flop earlier this month.

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.

"If you ask me, 'Are we going to make concessions?' I must tell you that it is the United Kingdom leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and not the other way around", the former European commissioner and French foreign minister told a joint press conference with Mr Davis, AFP reported.

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"My mandate is to defend the single market, defend the European Union, which the United Kingdom has made a decision to leave", Barnier told reporters after briefing ministers from EU member states in Luxembourg.

At the weekend, Hammond revived his opposition to an abrupt departure from the European Union, calling for a phasing-in of Britain's new trade and regulatory relationship with its main trading partner. However, Hammond made a point of acknowledging the concerns of other European Union countries about their oversight of financial markets which are vital to their economies but will be outside the bloc.

Britain's political instability has caused concerns in European capitals hoping to get the negotiations over with quickly and cleanly, as has May's oft-repeated threat to walk away from the talks without a deal if necessary. He said the importance of the talks was not how they start but how they finish.

Davis said Britain's negotiating position had not changed as a result of his Conservative Party's poor showing in recent elections. The now the EU's biggest financial market.

Mr Hammond said: "We recognise that this is a negotiation, and our negotiating counterparts, while broadly sharing our desire for a close ongoing relationship, will have their own priorities".

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Business Insider reported that two different sources had said that the EIF had ceased sending funds to any firm who applied, or was in the process of submitting and application, after the UK's Brexit referendum past year.

"It was clear from the opening that both of us want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership".

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

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

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