Michel Barnier has pushed back plans to have an agreement for the outline of any post-Brexit trade and security deal by the end of the week. He has told colleagues in Brussels to expect more negotiations in the Belgian capital before any “landing zones” are established. The Frenchman is currently locked in intensive talks in London with UK counterpart Lord Frost with the apparent deadline looming large over the process.
Sources have indicated that the current round of wrangling will be wrapped up over the weekend before deciding on the next steps.
EU figures expect a deal to emerge by November 19 at the latest, the same day the bloc’s leaders are due to hold a video conference.
The key sticking points – fisheries, level playing field and governance – remain unresolved, according to sources.
Michel Barnier expects further delay to Brexit deal
Michel Barnier is the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator
One EU diplomat said: “The real cut-off point is late next week.”
British officials have insisted they are working constructively to secure a deal before the end of the post-Brexit transition period in December.
Downing Street has been adamant that any agreement should be concluded as soon as possible to give businesses the necessary time to prepare for the changes in the trading relationship with Brussels.
Lord Frost is expected to travel to Brussels next week for more Brexit talks
In a bid to pave the way for an agreement, Brussels negotiators have offered a series of concessions.
Mr Barnier said he would exempt police and judicial cooperation from any cross retaliation measures in the trade and security deal.
He also said the bloc would have to compromise on its demands for post-Brexit fishing rights in order to secure a future relationship pact with Britain.
Lord Frost and Michel Barnier are holding talks in London currently
No 10 has warned the EU it must be more realistic with its request for access to Britain’s coastal waters after the end of the year.
A Government spokesman said: “Unfortunately we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped so far during this intensive process. We will only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.
“The EU also does not seem to have realised the scale of change in fishing rights they face if there is no agreement.”
We need British lion to ROAR again! But is Boris up to it? [COMMENT]
‘We are watching!’ PM sent dire fishing warning over Brexit compromise [INSIGHT]
Desmond Swayne lashes out at EU for trying to shackle UK [VIDEO]
Meanwhile Brussels is holding out for more reassurances over Britain’s future financial services regulations before granting the City of London access to the bloc’s markets.
Eurocrats have ignored Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s offer to stabilise the environment for bankers and fund managers operating between the UK and EU.
He said the Treasury was taking regulatory decisions intended to ensure EU-based exchanges and clearing houses could continue to be used by UK customers.