EU insists November 19 is the final deadline for agreeing a Brexit trade accord with the UK as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says it is ‘more likely than not’ there WILL be a deal but warns it could still ‘fall apart’
- Trade talks between the UK and the EU remain deadlocked as clock ticks down
- Diplomats in Brussels view EU summit on November 19 as final deadline for deal
- Simon Coveney today said he believes ‘we are more likely to get a deal than not’
- But Irish Foreign Minister warned it is still ‘quite possible this could fall apart’
Diplomats in Brussels today warned an EU summit on November 19 will be the final deadline to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.
Talks remain deadlocked on a number of key issues and figures on both sides believe the negotiations are likely to go down to the wire.
The EU is likely to need approximately six weeks to ratify and implement any deal and with the end of the ‘standstill’ transition period in December ticking closer, the discussions are now entering a decisive phase.
Diplomats said if there isn’t a deal in place by Thursday next week then ‘time is up’ and Britain and Brussels will split at the end of the year without a trade accord.
The emergence of the new deadline came as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he believed ‘we are more likely to get a deal than not’.
However, he also warned it is still ‘quite possible that this could fall apart’, a result which he said would result in ‘real problems’ for both sides.
Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to strike a Brexit trade deal with the EU as the end of the transition period in December draws closer
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney today warned talks could still ‘fall apart’ but he believes a deal will be done
The heads of the EU’s 27 member states are due to convene for a video conference on the bloc’s coronavirus response on November 19.
But that summit is now viewed by many in Brussels as a crunch point in the trade talks.
A senior EU diplomat told The Guardian: ‘If there isn’t good news by then, then you really have to say that time is up – it just isn’t possible.
‘The leaders will need to see that it is there.’
Mr Coveney said today the ‘barriers to progress are well understood’ and the two sides are still a ‘long way apart’ on post-Brexit fishing rights as well as on the so-called ‘level playing field’ on rules and fair competition.
He said formal talks are likely to stretch into next week and while he is hopeful of a deal, he stressed it is still possible the negotiations could fail.
‘I think it is quite possible that this could fall apart and we don’t get a deal, that wouldn’t shock me at all,’ he said.
‘But if you are asking me to call it I think we are more likely to get a deal than not but I think it is unlikely this week but hopefully I will be proven wrong.
‘I think it is likely to move into next week but at that point the timelines start to get very tight, there are only 50 days left this year and of course there is a ratification process that takes a lot of time.
‘So we don’t have much time left and I think this week and next week are crucial really.
‘If we don’t have a deal at some point next week I think we have real problems.’
Mr Coveney said a failure to agree a trade deal would ‘represent an extraordinary failure of politics and diplomacy’.
He said he believed the ‘sobering’ cost of not having a trade agreement ‘will motivate people hopefully to agree to sensible compromise’.
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