The EU has won its first battle in its negotiations with the UK with David Davis, the Government’s Brexit Secretary, confirming he has agreed to the EU’s negotiating timetable. Davis had originally demanded that two strands of negotiations should be staged in parallel with each other – one strand being discussions relating to the EU’s top priorities of EU citizens’ rights, the size of Britain’s “divorce bill” and borders; the other strand being the UK’s aim to secure immediate talks on a free trade agreement.
However, following six hours of discussions on the first day of the Brexit talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, Davis confirmed in a joint press conference that he had dropped this central demand and that the UK now accepts the EU’s negotiating timetable. Mr Barnier made it clear that any discussions regarding trade would not begin until “sufficient progress on the divorce” had been made. Responding to a question regarding concessions to the UK, Mr Barnier told reporters that the UK had decided to leave the EU, not the other way round, and he was “not in the frame of mind to make concessions or ask for concessions”.
There will be one week of negotiations every month with working groups of “senior experts” set up to focus on the three main areas: the Brexit bill, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border.