EU expects delay in Brexit deal beyond October target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders are likely to have to hold an emergency summit in November to consider any Brexit agreement struck with Britain, missing an informal deadline the previous month, diplomats in Brussels said.

European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier attends a media briefing with Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Dominic Raab, after a meeting at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Agreeing the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU next March, as well as an outline of its future ties with the bloc, is proving a tall order. Delays have stirred talk that Britain could crash out of the EU with no agreements to replace nearly five decades of close cooperation in everything from food standards to space exploration and global diplomacy.

Negotiations on the divorce deal resumed after the summer break on Tuesday, but even the bloc’s Brexit negotiator signalled growing expectations that were increasingly unlikely to be wrapped up in time for a regular EU summit in October.

“I’m not going to say (it must come in) October. A few days here or there, beginning of November. But not much later than that, certainly,” Michel Barnier told a joint news conference with Britain’s Brexit minister, Dominic Raab.

Both men agreed that, while there has been progress in drafting possible cooperation between the EU and Britain on security and defence after Brexit, the Irish border and trade ties were still the key sticking points.

“If we have that ambition, that pragmatism and that energy on both sides, I’m confident we can reach that agreement by October,” Raab told the same news conference.

But some Brussels diplomats told Reuters the process could even slip into December,

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