'There is more that unites us than divides us.
'I hope 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 start'.
The U.K. electoral debacle has put May's own position in doubt, fueling a new battle within her Conservative Party over the kind of Brexit the government should seek. That financial issue is already a bone of contention, as is Brussels' refusal to discuss a new free trade deal until after it is resolved.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, finance minister Philip Hammond said a "no deal" outcome "would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain".
The negotiations start against the backdrop of a mounting domestic crisis in the U.K. May's weakened post-election standing deteriorated further last week after she was slammed for misjudging the national mood following a deadly tower block inferno in West London.
Mr Barnier, who prepared for the opening of negotiations by spending the weekend in the French Alps, presented Mr Davis with a traditional walking stick from the Savoie region made from wood, hand carved and with a leather wrist strap.
How the negotiations progress will be monitored closely by investors and business leaders.
With discontent in Europhile Scotland and troubled Northern Ireland, which faces a new European Union border across the divided island, Brexit poses new threats to the integrity of the United Kingdom. The pound has fallen about 14 percent against the dollar since the June 23 referendum, pushing up inflation even as the economy shows signs of slowing. The British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, the EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Institute of Directors wrote an open letter to the British government, underscoring the "economic benefits" of the single market and the three freedoms (goods/services, capital, and people), as well as the customs union, which enables tariff-free trading.
Brexit talks are officially underway.
Frenchman Barnier struck a firm tone as he said the timetable for Britain's divorce after four troubled decades of membership made sense.
"Although the prospect of a soft Brexit has the ability to support sterling, I feel the currency remains vulnerable to further downside amid the confusion and ongoing uncertainty that Brexit presents", FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga said. Freedom of labor movement is a tenet of European Union membership and May initially interpreted the referendum result as a demand to stop that.
He told ITV last month that it would be "wholly illogical" not to negotiate Britain's future trading relationship with the European Union at the same time as negotiating divorce procedures. President Emmanuel Macron and the growing assurance from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she will be reelected in September, analysts say there may be fewer reasons for Europe to compromise.
"I think it's premature to speculate about the outcome on the first day of talks", she told reporters in Berlin. Instead, he will stress the importance of a "pragmatic" approach to negotiating transition periods and avoiding a cliff edge.