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Foreign minister Simon Coveney warned there will be “real problems” if an agreement isn’t found before the end of the year. In speech to a think-tank in Dublin, he urged Michel Barnier to “show some compromise to accommodate many British asks” in the final phase of Brexit talks. His intervention came after it emerged EU chiefs had set Downing Street a deadline of next Thursday for a future relationship pact to be wrapped up.
Mr Coveney said: “I think we may well be likely to go into next week on these negotiations. We’re not there yet.
“What I would say is the UK Government understand only too well what’s needed for an agreement here.
“I don’t believe the EU ask is unreasonable and the EU also needs to show some compromise to accommodate many British asks.”
He added: “No deal costs are pretty sobering.
“That’s why I believe we will get a deal because of the cost of not getting a deal particularly for Britain and Ireland.”
Mr Coveney, however, suggested the UK would still have to accept fair competition rules and a compromise of future fishing rights to get the deal over the line.
British officials are concerned that the EU is still unwilling to accept Brexit means Downing Street will be free to set its own rules for Britain.
One insider said: “We can’t agree to arrangements requiring us to operate laws equivalent to the EU’s and make us pay a penalty if we moved away from them.
“We need policy space to decide what is in the UK’s interest in the future. That is the very essence of what Brexit is about.”
Brussels has reportedly issued a seven-day ultimatum to No10 to have any Brexit deal ready for a crunch meeting of EU leaders.
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The video conference was said to be the final moment to establish whether an agreement is still possible before the end of the year.
An EU diplomat said: “If there isn’t good news by 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.”
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Wrangling over the trade deal in London is still in deadlock because of disagreements over post-Brexit fishing rights and future common standards.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The talks are ongoing in London this week as part of the intensive talks process. The negotiating teams are working hard and for our part we continue to seek solutions that respect UK sovereignty.”
He added: “Time is in short supply and for our part we continue to work very hard to bridge the gaps which remain between our two positions.”
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