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Finally, Britain kicks off Brexit negotiations with EU

21 June 2017

The EU does wish to talk quite soon about the question of the one land border the United Kingdom will have with the EU, on the island of Ireland.

While the European Union negotiating team led by Barnier has been ready for months, British efforts on Brexit stalled even after it triggered the two-year process on March 29.

Mr Barnier and Mr Davis will reconvene for a second round of talks in the week commencing July 17.

"It was very important and useful to start off on the right foot as the clock is ticking", Barnier said Monday after the talks, held at the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels. Widely under pressure, the European Union has been pursuing Britain to make a firm stance firm on Brexit, with time running out and three months bygone since Britain PM Theresa May put in force the two-year Article 50 European Union exit process.

Mr Soros said that if Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to stay in power, she would have to change her approach and take account of young people who he said wanted to find well-paying jobs. The move backfired, May lost her Conservative majority in the vote and has been fending off critics of her leadership ever since. "To make matters worse, they will also realize that they have become over-indebted and they will have to pay back their debts".

He and others have also raised the possibility that Britain could remain in the EU. An EU official said Britain still refused to accept it would owe Brussels anything.

"I am not in a frame of mind to make concessions, or ask for concessions", he said.

"These talks will be hard at points, but we will be approaching them in a constructive way".

But Davis, the British negotiator, told reporters Monday that he flatly rejected those offers. "It was a clear rebuff to May's stated ambition of wrapping up a new free trade agreement quickly".

"The divorce process would take at least five years to complete, and during that time new elections would take place", Mr Soros said.

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Talks in Spain are expected to include the thorny issue of Gibraltar after the EU's guidelines for talks suggested the disputed territory's future economic status might be subject to a veto from Madrid.

"Let's wait for that paper. there may be some common ground".

Brussels has made the future of three million European Union citizens in Britain and one million Britons in Europe a priority, insisting they should be allowed to keep their rights to live, work, study and claim welfare benefits. The other European Union countries have a united position, but the British are "in chaos", Weber added.

"That is what I said to David today".

He added that an orderly withdrawal was essential for both Britain and the EU. That agreement, which largely put a stop to decades of sectarian violence, dissolved any visible signs of border between the two. EU leaders want May to lay off threats that she would walk out and leave a chaotic legal limbo for all Europeans. Ireland's leaders have warned that any new barriers could be a setback for peace.

Securing a quick deal on citizens' rights is the top priority.

"There is no doubt that the road ahead will at times be challenging, but as Winston Churchill once said: 'The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity". An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. "I am certain it is soluble".

And at a final news conference they traded quotes from their respective nations' history: Barnier cited European Union founding father Jean Monnet to say: "I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic".

Stupp is a special correspondent.