EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier wearing a face mask because of the novel coronavirus pandemic walks to a conference centre to continue negotiations on a trade deal between the EU and the UK in London on November 11, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
Britain and the European Union are likely to miss their mid-November deadline to clinch a post-Brexit trade deal, with talks in London to break a deadlock expected to run through the end of this week, sources on both sides told Reuters on Wednesday.
Britain left the bloc last January. A status quo transition period expires at the end of the year, and talks on trade rules from the start of 2021 have yet to yield a breakthrough.
Ambassadors of the 27 EU member states in Brussels will not be updated on the talks at a regular meeting on Wednesday and the issue is now tentatively pencilled in for their meeting on Nov. 18, a senior EU diplomat said.
The pound wobbled against the US dollar on the news that talks might go beyond the mid-month deadline.
However, in a sign that the estranged allies are still pushing for an agreement, EU sources said they now expect negotiators to come up with an agreed text in the middle of next week, unless talks collapse or there is a breakthrough earlier.
"The real cut-off point is late next week," said one EU diplomat who follows Brexit in EU hub Brussels.
A British source also said the negotiating teams' talks in London were expected to last through the end of this week.
Divvying up fishing quotas, ensuring fair competition for companies, including rules on state aid, and agreeing how to settle any trade disputes in the future are the main sticking points that have so far barred an agreement.