EU sets seven-day deadline for Brexit talks as official warns of 'real problems'

EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier walking with other members of the EU delegation

EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier walking with other members of the EU delegation - Credit: PA

The European Union has set the UK government a seven-day deadline over Brexit talks, as the bloc warns time is running out to ratify transitional arrangements.

Officials on both sides are pessimistic about a deal being reached in the coming days, with the EU wanting an agreement by mid-November in order to allow MEPs to scrutinise the agreement before voting.

MORE: Petition calls for Brexit transition period to be extended

It also wants to put the deal to leaders at an EU summit on 19 November, but there is scepticism on both sides if it will happen.

“If there isn’t good news by then, then you really have to say that time is up – it just isn’t possible,” one senior EU diplomat told the Guardian. “The leaders will need to see that it is there.”

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney told an online event organised by the European Movement that there will be "real problems" if agreement is not reached by next week.

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He said: “I think it is quite possible that this could fall apart and we don’t get a deal, that wouldn’t shock me at all.

“But if you are asking me to call it, I think we are more likely to get a deal than not, but I think it’s unlikely this week – hopefully I’ll be proven wrong – I think it’s likely to move into next week.

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“But at that point the timelines start to get very tight.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Time is in short supply and for our part we continue to work very hard to seek to bridge the gaps which remain between our two positions.”

The prime minister said: "We need to be ready, whatever the outcome. This country is full of plans, full of resilience."

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