EU summit to say Brexit talks progress not enough

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has been briefing EU leaders ahead of a summit in Brussels from Thursday (October 15).

With a trillion euros of trade at stake, they’re likely to press him to intensify talks.

But a draft summit decision seen by Reuters says progress is ‘still not sufficient’.

This week leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel have said they still want a deal though:

"The EU is united in its desire to still achieve this in such a short space of time. But we must also be prepared in the event that no agreement is reached.”

The EU wants agreement by this month, in order to leave time for ratification by the European Parliament.

Three sticking points remain: state aid for firms, procedures for settling disputes, and fishing rights.

The latter appears particularly intractable, with little sign a deal is close.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney says Brussels won’t betray the fishing industry:

“We value fishermen, we value their contribution across the European Union and certainly EU fishermen are not going to be sold out in an effort to get an agreement on the future relationship with the UK on trade.”

Eyes too on the UK parliament.

A bill going through there could give London the right to breach existing withdrawal agreements - a move Brussels says is against international law.

Though UK foreign minister Dominic Raab says that shouldn’t scupper a deal:

"I'm hopeful that we can close the gap but ultimately it will require the same goodwill, the same pragmatism, the same flexibility on the EU side that the United Kingdom and this Prime Minister have shown.”

However, this week’s summit is expected to conclude with a warning to the UK:

Implement existing agreements in full… before you think about getting any kind of new deal.