BRUSSELS – The chief negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom said the essence of Brexit now had to be discussed, as they geared up to begin the second round of negotiations that began in Brussels on Monday.
The EU’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, said alongside his British counterpart, David Davis, that the talks this week would focus on citizens’ rights, financial settlement, Northern Ireland and enforcing Article 50, which British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered in March and formally began the process of pulling the UK out of the bloc.
“We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress,” said Barnier, adding that they would “delve into the heart of the matter.”
Davis said it was incredibly important that they make progress in the separation talks, highlighting the need to identify differences to work on and similarities to reinforce.
He said last month’s talks had been a good start, but that it was now time to tackle some of the most important issues that are at the center of Brexit.
“Now, it’s time to get down to work and make this a successful negotiation,” he said.
Barnier said that, until Thursday, negotiating groups created by both sides would be meeting to discuss each issue.
He said he would be in contact with his British counterpart throughout the talks, but that they would meet on Thursday to take stock of the week’s dialogues.
This is to be the second round of Brexit negotiations, after the talks held in Brussels on June 19 that primarily served to set the calendar and organize the work method that is to be used throughout the next two years.
The EU aims for talks to end in fall 2018 so that both sides can sign the agreement by March 29, 2019, the day the two-year deadline for the separation runs out.