European commission member in charge of Brexit negotiations with Britain, French Michel Barnier gives a joint press for Article 50 Negotiations with the United Kingdom Council of the EU headquarters in Brussels, on May 3, 2017. / AFP / JOHN THYS
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The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier insisted Wednesday the bloc was not punishing Britain as London firmly rejected a reported 100 billion euro exit bill.Barnier warned however against the "illusion" that leaving the European Union would be quick or painless, urging Britain to start talks as soon as possible after its general election in June.Barnier said the calculations of what the EU says Britain owes would be based on "rigorous methodology".He called on Britain to guarantee "for life" the rights of three million EU citizens living in Britain, who are currently allowed to live, work and study there freely under EU rules.The EU 27 are expected on May 22 to give Barnier a formal mandate to conduct talks over the next two years with Britain.Barnier has said he needs to wrap up talks by October 2018 to get any Brexit deal through the European Parliament in time for Britain's scheduled departure from the EU on March 29, 2019 .
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