>> Phase two of Brexit talks has officially been unlocked. EU Summit Chair Donald Tusk says the Block will start exploratory talks with London. With negotiations now turning to focus on a transition period and trade. British Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the development as an important step.>> We will be beginning the talks about our future relationship.
We'll be beginning those straightaway. And also talking about the implementation period that will give certainty to businesses and individuals.>> Reuters Alastair MacDonald was at the leaders summit in Brussels. He says phase two will raise tough questions.>> How trade will work, how the security and defense relationship will work.
How far the European Union is willing to do Britain special favors in recognition of the fact that it's a large an important trading partner. And how far they will resist demands from London for special terms, in order to maintain the cohesion of their union.>> Full talks on future trade won't start until after another summit in March, whether EU will agree on its own negotiating objectives.
Some leaders have cautioned that the final year of Britain's divorce negotiations could be fraught with peril.>> Trade talks are going to expose differences, divergent interests among the EU 27. At the same time, the diplomats, the experts here are saying, look, this is now new for the EU.
They've arranged deep, wide-ranging, very expensive free trade arrangements with other countries, with which they have very divergent trading interests.>> Both parties are still planning for a March 2019 exit. And while Tusk says it's realistic, he also acknowledges it's, quote, 'dramatically difficult'.