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EU’s Barnier assures Britons of compromises on Brexit

At the first formal Brexit negotiations Monday, Britain accepted the EU’s timetable that the exit bill, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland border be settled before its request for a free trade deal be considered.The European Union said after a first day of talks on Britain’s exit from the 28-member bloc that the clock was ticking on negotiations, but British Brexit minister David Davis said he was optimistic they would yield a swift and good outcome. She made it clear that Britain wants reciprocal measures for the 1.5 million British citizens living in the EU.Monday’s talks marked the start of what will be one of the most politically sensitive global negotiations of modern times.”We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit“, centering on citizens living on each other’s territory, border arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the amount that Britain stands to pay to get out of its previous European Union commitments, Barnier said.The two-day Brussels summit marks the debut of French President Emmanuel Macron, the figurehead of a renewed confidence among the remaining 27 states that Britain’s withdrawal can be a fresh start.This includes preparations for new bills on customs and immigration.While the European Union negotiating team led by Barnier has been ready for months, British efforts on Brexit stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29. “We will need to know these differences very soon so we can start the negotiations”. He said: “I am not a dreamer”.For his part, and sounding conciliatory, Johnson said as he arrived at a meeting with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg that he looked forward to “a happy revolution” in relations that would be good for Britain and the rest of Europe.”For me the shaping of the future of the 27 is a priority coming before the issue of the negotiations with Britain on the exit”, Merkel said, referring to the number of European Union nations minus Britain.”That is what I said to David today”. Led by Germany, Brussels had insisted from the beginning that Britain’s decision a year ago to leave Europe clearly meant it was leaving Europe, with all the attendant privileges.The EU leaders will also discuss plans to push internet firms to clamp down on online extremism, and Europe’s migration crisis.What’s more, Davis made clear that there’s little appetite in Britain – at least in the opening salvo of negotiations – for a so-called soft Brexit.”If we back this image that Brexit perhaps would not happen, it brings an uncertainty”.France’s new president spoke of working with Germany to revive European integration and Macron did not refer at all to Britain during his remarks before talks got under way.After nearly a year of waffling, Britain on Monday finally opens negotiations with its European Union counterparts about leaving the bloc, with the final outcome, due in 2019, as important as it now seems unpredictable.Still a child when Germany reunited, the Soviet Union collapsed and European nations chose to share their currencies, Macron hasn’t lived through the European conflicts and tensions that other leaders experienced firsthand.