EU to Be 'Amicable, Firm' with United Kingdom in Brexit Talks - EU Commissioner

Britain has less than two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship before it is due to leave in late March 2019.

But the disastrous outcome of the June 8 snap election, which left her without a majority in the House of Commons, has raised doubts over whether she will even be able to see the two-year process through.

Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day.

On Thursday, EU negotiator Mr Barnier will report back to leaders about relocating EU agencies based in the UK.

With Britain's negotiations on the terms of its departure from the European Union set to begin on Monday, the country risks skills shortages and losing business if it ends freedom of movement without a new plan for attracting workers, the report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said.

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One European diplomat in London said the political upheaval was such that it was hard to know what to write back to his capital, pouring scorn on May's campaign slogan of "strong and stable leadership".

Barnier, a keen mountaineer, spent the weekend in his native Alps "to draw the strength and energy needed for long walks".

June 22 Mr Barnier reports back to the leaders of the EU27, who are expected to endorse a process for relocation of European Union agencies now based in the UK.

"The point is she is not a unifying figure any more".

Indeed, when it is taken into account that, in addition to the enormous bill which is looming, the United Kingdom electorate has never been asked to give a specific view on other vital issues, including the future of the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of European Court of Justice, a powerful case can be made for a second referendum on the validity of any final agreement.

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It will test the ingenuity of thousands of public servants racing against the clock to untangle 44 years of European Union membership before Britain is out, 649 days from now, on March 30, 2019.

'My clear view, and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain, is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth, protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations, ' finance minister Philip Hammond said. "We want to end the anxiety facing 4 million citizens". Both sides need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world's biggest trading bloc and the fifth largest global economy.

The issue most likely to torpedo negotiations is Britain's bill for leaving the bloc.

Brussels is also resisting British demands for immediate talks on a future free trade arrangement.

The EU has set three priority areas: Britain's exit bill, the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, and Northern Ireland.

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