British BrexitSecretary David Davis (L) and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier address statements prior to the fourth round of Negotiation on Brexit talks at the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 25, 2017. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday called for more "clarity" from Britain, as a fresh round of Brexit talks kicked off here.
The talks, the fourth of its kind, came on the heels of British Prime Minister Theresa May's high-profile speech in the Italian city of Florence spelling out Britain's plans to leave the EU.
In her speech on Friday, May proposed a two-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
She also pledged that Britain would pay "fair share" into the EU budget, a hint that London would budge on the touchy issue of the "divorce bill."
Speaking to reporters ahead of the talks, Barnier once again hailed a "constructive spirit" in May's Florence speech, adding that the EU "is keen and eager to understand better how the British government will translate the prime minister's speech into negotiating positions."
"We do not need to remind ourselves that we are six months into the process, we are getting closer to the UK's withdrawal, and I think that this moment should be a moment of clarity," he stressed.
"A real progress on the three main issues -- citizens' rights, Ireland, financial settlement -- is essential to move to the discussion as on the transition as well as on the future," he said, standing along with his British counterpart David Davis.
Davis said May's Florence speech "set out clearly the leadership and flexibility needed to make a success of these negotiations."
Touching on the financial settlement or "divorce bill," Davis said: "As part of a smooth and orderly exit, we do not want our EU partners to worry that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave."
When it comes to the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, Davis said: "We will incorporate the agreement fully into UK law and take steps to ensure consistent interpretation."
"We both want to avoid changes to the way citizens enjoy their rights and our proposals we'll deliver that," he said.
On the border between Britain's Northern Ireland and Ireland, Davis said the two teams made "good progress" in the last round, with a common desire to maintain the common travel area and protect Good Friday Agreement.
The long-awaited Brexit talks was launched on June 19, nearly one year after Britain voted to leave the bloc by a narrow margin on June 23, 2016.
May sent a notification letter to the EU in late March, triggering a two-year countdown to Britain's withdrawal of the bloc after more than 44 years of membership.