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German minister sees hope of 'soft' Brexit, with conditions

German minister sees hope of 'soft' Brexit, with conditions

And one in five businesses said that they would target future growth outside the United Kingdom or even relocate as a result of the Brexit vote.

"There's more that unites us than divides us, so while there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations, we will do all that we can to ensure that we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all citizens", Davis said. "I hope that today we can identify priorities and the timetable that would allow me to report to the European Council later this week that we had a constructive opening of negotiations", he said.

"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, protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward", he said.

The talks - which have started nearly exactly a year after the 23 June referendum - mark a significant moment in Britain's complex task of leaving the bloc after more than 40 years of integration.

But EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to quit.

"I think the whole process will lead to a happy resolution which can be done with honour and profit to both sides", Johnson said as he went into an European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson issued a statement about the UK's future plans without its 27 other European Union members: "The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon". The latter allows any European Union citizen to visit any other member states and receive public healthcare, which is then claimed back from the respective government. He has said a divorce deal should be ready by October next year to give time for parliamentary approval.

The UK side is led by Brexit Secretary David Davis, the self-described "charming bastard" and committed Leaver who is spearheading the British negotiating effort.

While Barnier insists on the "sequencing" of talks, so that trade negotiations can not start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a "hard" customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.

It is expected talks will take place once a month in Brussels as they work through the issues to be resolved.

But there is still disagreement about exactly what Brexit will look like after the Conservative's poor performance in an election they largely portrayed as a vote of confidence on Theresa May's plans for a hard exit.

Splits have opened in the British government about the Brexit strategy, even as top Conservatives have held back from booting May, at least for now.

Before lunching on Belgian asparagus, red mullet and meringue cake, the two exchanged gifts that homed in on a shared love of hiking: Davis received a walking stick from Barnier's native Savoy Alps and Barnier a first edition of a French mountaineer's Himalayan memoir - "Regards vers Annapurna". The U.K. will exit the European Union in March 2019 unless all European Union nations agree to extend the negotiations.

European stocks rose on Monday, partly on optimism about the talks actually getting underway after months of sniping and uncertainty, analysts said.

Pro-Europe Britons have floated other ideas, such as accepting a long transition period before Britain departs from the bloc, and accepting rulings from the European Court of Justice.

Labour Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said Britain would leave the EU, but membership of the customs union should still be "on the table" - this membership would stop Britain from signing free trade deals with other non-EU countries.

Once agreement has been made in this phase of the talks, the second phase discussing the future trade relationship can begin.

On Sunday, the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, flew to Washington DC on his first trade trip since the election. It is also likely to reduce France's incentives to help reach a Brexit deal.