LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain and the EU have planned more trade negotiations all the way until Oct. 2, less than a fortnight before a summit where the bloc hopes to endorse any agreement with London, according to a schedule published by British negotiators on Friday.
More than four years after Britons voted to leave the EU, and after tortuous divorce talks, the two sides are negotiating on all aspects of their future ties, from trade to security to transport, from 2021 onwards.
The EU has said negotiators must seal any deal by October to allow for ratification by the bloc’s 27 nations. The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has since, however, signalled room for some slippage.
“Negotiating rounds will take place in August and in September, unless agreed otherwise between the parties,” according to a document posted on Twitter by the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost.
The three more rounds planned would end on Oct. 2, ahead of the summit of the EU’s 27 leaders due on Oct. 15-16.
Should the two sides fail to produce an agreement by then, it would likely trigger high-level emergency talks to get a deal over the line before the end of the year, when Britain’s transition period ends.
A split without provisions to mitigate the impact of Brexit would be the most damaging option for both the world’s fifth-largest economy and its biggest trading bloc.
Differences over fishing quotas and guarantees of fair competition have so far stood in the way of a deal but EU sources have sounded more positive in recent weeks that an agreement should be possible on time.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Kate Holton and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Giles Elgood)