But the past three rounds of talks have yielded little progress, so British Prime Minister Theresa May used a speech in Florence, Italy on September 22 to present her proposals for the future to accelerate Brexit negotiations.
Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, gave a cautious welcome to Mrs May's speech, describing it as "constructive" and saying it shows "a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence".
Speaking in Florence, in what was regarded as her most important speech since taking office, Theresa May set out for a two-year "implementation period" after Britain officially leaves the bloc in March 2019.
She proposed what she called a "clear double lock:" a guarantee for people and businesses to have time to prepare, and certainty that the transitional period would not go on forever.
'Thus, the EU's response to May's speech is likely to be even more important for United Kingdom asset prices'.
Brussels is also looking for progress on the future of three million EU citizens now living in Britain, with the two sides deadlocked on the role of the European Court of Justice.
However, the Prime Minister did reiterate what she had said in her Lancaster House speech earlier in the year, that exiting the EU did mean leaving the single market and the customs union.
The tone of the speech was conciliatory, with Mrs May telling other European Union countries that Britain wanted to be their "strongest friend and partner" after Brexit, and work together on crucial security issues such as trafficking and terrorism.
She added that Britain wants to continue working together with the European Union in ways that promote long-term economic development in Europe.
He then repeated, yet again, the crucial issues on which he said the United Kingdom failed to provide sufficient clarity and on which, therefore, the sides had failed so far to reach agreement: citizens' rights, the financial settlement and Ireland.
The speech follows a turbulent week in her cabinet, most notably due to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been accused of being an out of touch "backseat driver" to the Brexit negotiations. In which case, the Prime Minister will need to move further towards the EU's position, or we face a realistic prospect of a cliff-edge departure.
The unabashedly pro-EU Macron became the youngest president of France in May, leaving Eurosceptics in Britain fearing the Frenchman would ensure France continues its hard line on Brexit Britain during negotiations.
Mrs May reflected on the fact that Britain has never totally felt at home being in the European Union, but said it would remain a proud member of the family of European nations.
Bienkov believes some of the Prime Minister's language in the speech was "woolly" because she was trying to address "the concerns on the European partners" as well as her own domestic audience.
Without answers to these issues, there could be no transition deal, he said.
While the UK's Brexit Secretary, David Davis, said there was a "high degree of convergence" on that issue.
The third round of talks ended last month in a very public dispute over how much Britain should pay in a divorce settlement, an issue the European Union says must be resolved before the parties' future trading relationship - Britain's key concern - can be discussed.
The government has still not managed to agree on a negotiating strategy, and May's speech in Florence will do little to quell the growing impatience of the British public with a government that appears to have no idea what it wants or how to achieve it.