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European Union warns a lot of work to be done before Brexit deal

European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Brussels Oct 13, 2019, 10.29 PM (IST)

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator warned diplomats Sunday that "a lot of work remains to be done" in withdrawal talks between London and Brussels.

The European Commission issued a statement shortly after Barnier briefed EU ambassadors on the negotiations, just four days before a key European summit.

"Michel Barnier briefed EU27 ambassadors this afternoon, following constructive technical-level talks with the United Kingdom over the weekend," it said.

"He will also inform the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group this evening. A lot of work remains to be done," it warned.

A European diplomat familiar with Sunday's briefing confirmed that there had not been any sign of a quick resolution to the crisis, and suggested Britain's position had not moved far enough.

"No breakthrough yet. Intensive discussions continue. Overall not an easy starting position -- also because only a few days remain until the European Council," the source said. 

"If the British government wants a solution, it must move quickly now. The clock is ticking."

Technical talks with British officials will continue on Monday, and on Tuesday Barnier will head to Luxembourg to brief EU ministers preparing the summit.

The European Council summit on Thursday and Friday has been billed as a key date in efforts to negotiate Britain's orderly withdrawal from the EU on October 31.

If Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not able to come to an agreement with the other 27 EU leaders this month, Britain may crash out without a follow-on treaty. 

Story highlights

The European Commission issued a statement shortly after Barnier briefed EU ambassadors on the negotiations, just four days before a key European summit.