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Brexit talks start with first United Kingdom concession

28 June 2017

Barnier made clear on Tuesday that while there must be a first phase that excludes trade discussions, he does hope that four weeks of monthly negotiating sessions can get him to the point where he can ask European Union leaders in October to let him move on and discuss how the two sides can keep commerce open from 2019. It has led to calls from within the Conservative Party and business community for a softer Brexit where the mantra of "no deal is better than a bad deal" is laid to rest and the focus shifts to the economy and jobs with some calling for the United Kingdom to remain in both the single market and the customs union.

A top German business lobby is urging negotiators for Britain and the European Union to quickly come to an agreement over how Britain's departure from the EU will affect cross-border trade — and avoid a "hard Brexit".

"A fair deal is possible and far better than no deal", Barnier said at a press conference on Monday.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said the negotiations which should lead to a breakup by March 2019 "must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit — first for citizens, but also for the beneficiaries of the European Union policies and for the impact on borders, in particular Ireland".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday he still thinks that the Brexit negotiations will yield "a happy resolution that can be done with profit and honor for both sides".

Germany's deputy foreign minister, Michael Roth, told RBB Inforadio that "we must of course protect our interests as the European Union 27 but naturally we also don't want to punish Britain".

"We agreed that we stand a much greater chance of success if our teams work together and that has been demonstrated today", he said.

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We want to find the best solution for them and their families, "said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator for Brexit".

"In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues". They will use the time in between to work on proposals and exchange them.

"In the first phase, the negotiation rounds will be broken down into three groups: citizens' rights, the single financial settlement, and other separation issues", Barnier said. "In addition, a dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland has been launched under the authority of the Coordinators".

George Soros, the billionaire who earned fame by betting against the pound in 1992, said Britain was approaching a tipping point that would see the economy slow to such an extent that Brexit might even be reversed.

"I'm not in a frame of mind to make concessions", Barnier told reporters at the end of the first day of talks in Brussels. This uncompromising stance is "not about punishment" or "revenge", but simply a effect of the U.K.'s decision to exit, he said.

Nearly a year after British voters took the decision to leave the bloc, Davis took a team of officials to open the negotiations with Barnier in the European Commission's Berlaymont building on Monday. "I will do all I can to put emotion to one side", Barnier said.

Brexit talks start with first United Kingdom concession