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First round of Article 50 negotiations with the UK

Speech given yesterday by Michel Barnier, the EC's Chief Negotiator, following the first round of Article 50 negotiations with the UK.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This first session was useful to start off on the right foot.

And it was useful for me to sit down with my counterpart, David Davis. I look forward to working closely with you during this negotiation.

Today, we agreed on dates.

We agreed on organisation.

We agreed on priorities for the negotiation.

In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit. We want to make sure that the withdrawal of the UK happens in an orderly manner.

Then, in a second step, we will scope our future relationship.

We also agreed on how we will structure our talks. Our aim is to have one week of negotiations every month. And use the time in between to work on proposals and exchange them.

In the first phase, the negotiation rounds will be broken down into three groups: citizens' rights, the single financial settlement, and other separation issues.

These groups will report back to their respective principals during each negotiating week.

David Davis and I, as Chief EU Negotiator, will discuss the issues together, tackle difficulties, lift obstacles.

We agreed that our closest collaborators will start a dialogue on Ireland. The protection of the Good Friday agreement and the maintenance of the Common Travel Area are the most urgent issues to discuss.

We also agreed on the importance of timing for this first phase.

Our objective is to agree on the main principles of the key challenges for the UK's withdrawal as soon as possible. This includes citizens' rights, the single financial settlement, and the question of the borders, in particular in Ireland.

The European Council can then decide on whether we can show sufficient progress, or not. And if we can move to scoping the future relationship on trade and other matters.

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