Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom over a post-Brexit trade deal are “at the final stages,” an EU official said.
Sources in Brussels and London said a Brexit deal could be closer, with both sides trying to reach an agreement before the transfer deadline expires next week.
Earlier there was a proposal that an announcement could be made by Wednesday evening, but that deadline seems to be slipping.
Britain left the EU in late January and entered an 11-month transition period following EU rules as it tried to negotiate a free trade agreement by the end of this year.
Both parties are trying to snatch an agreement before this deadline, although talks continue on a number of issues.
These include phishing rights and measures to prevent unfair competition by reducing the value of so-called ‘level playing fields’ or using state subsidies.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously claimed that the UK would “strongly improve” on the terms of a deal.
Opponents, however, say it will be released without a deal, and that if it can trade on World Trade Organization terms from January 1, there will be business problems and consumer prices will rise.
‘A decision has to be made’
Earlier this month, State Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said Even if there is a trade agreement, there are “huge differences, difficulties and problems” in Ireland.
“It doesn’t matter what happens in these talks – whether it’s a treaty or an agreement – the Brexit has significantly changed the UK’s relationship with the UK, and especially with Ireland in terms of trade.
“Even if there is an agreement between us, there is going to be huge differences, huge difficulties and huge problems after January 1st.”
Minister Byrne said he hoped the agreement would mean there would be no tariffs on goods traded, “but there will be duty checks, there will still be items you cannot import from the UK or things we will not be able to export”.
But he said there was no doubt that a trade deal “would generally create a better environment in which problems could be solved if we did.”
Although Ireland’s EU Commissioner Mired McGuinness has said that whatever happens between the EU and the UK, There needs to be some kind of agreement.
“Even if there is no agreement, the difficulty is that in January or early February, the UK and the EU will have to talk about the issue,” he said.
“Whether it’s called a ‘trade deal’ or whatever, there will be problems that we need to solve.”
“So it doesn’t go: there has to be a deal, there has to be a settlement.”