A protestor wears a Theresa May mask, London, Britain June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
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Theresa May should agree to pay Britain's bills to the European Union and drop threats to walk out without a legal deal if she wants talks on the "softer Brexit" some of her allies are calling for, EU negotiators say.EU leaders gave chief negotiator Michel Barnier no authority to so much as talk about trade until he clinches outline deals on Brussels' priority issues, including on what London owes them.There are also differences over the other priority issue for Brussels – securing the rights of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain – but diplomats see those as less problematic.Significant progress in talks on the budget and citizens' rights issue, as well as on issues around the new EU-U.K. land border in Ireland, would allow EU leaders to give Barnier a mandate by December to discuss a future, close relationship and, potentially, years of transition after 2019 to smooth its way.Barnier speaks of a willingness to look at various options but EU officials also stress that greater access to EU markets will mean accepting greater costs, closer to EU membership, and question whether Britain can find a political consensus on that.
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