Brexit deal within two weeks, predicts Irish minister - but 'it won't be easy'

James Crisp
·2 min read
Simon Coveney said talks were in a "very serious zone of negotiation". - Reuters
Simon Coveney said talks were in a "very serious zone of negotiation". - Reuters

Brexit negotiations are at their most difficult stage, the president of the European Council warned on Tuesday, as Ireland's foreign minister said a deal could be done within two weeks. 

"We all know that, in all negotiations, the last and final decisions are the most difficult," Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders in Brussels, said. "Will we get a deal? I don't know – it will depend on what will be on the table."

The former prime minister of Belgium said the two sides were still struggling to bridge differences over fishing, "level playing field" guarantees, especially concerning subsidy law, and the deal's enforcement. 

"You know what are the most difficult topics, and we are working to try to find solutions on the most difficult topics," he told a group of European newspapers. "It's not possible for me to assess what will happen in the next days or in the next two weeks."

The negotiations could fail, Mr Michel warned in Brussels – but in Ireland, Simon Coveney was more optimistic. 

The foreign minister said a Brexit deal was "likely" in the next 10 days to two weeks but would not be easy, stressing that talks were in a "very serious zone of negotiation".

Both sides are targeting mid-November to get the trade deal agreed and blessed by EU leaders at a summit.

That would give the European Parliament time to scrutinise and ratify the deal before the end of the transition period at the end of the year and prevent a no trade deal Brexit. 

"We're likely to get a deal, but it won't be easy," Mr Coveney told an Irish Farmers Journal webinar. "If there's no trade deal it'll be on the basis of WTO standards.

"If there is a trade deal, that will avoid tariffs and quotas but we will still unfortunately have a lot of disruption to trade. This is a new reality – we wish it wasn't happening, but it is."

The two sides have been locked in intensive negotiations in London since the process restarted last week. Talks will continue in Brussels on Thursday. Downing Street warned this week that time to get the deal agreed was very short.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Jaguar Land Rover Plc was resigned to the UK's breakup with the European Union resulting in a messy and complicated transition period for its operations regardless of whether or not there is a trade deal. 

The luxury-car maker released the details of its Brexit battle planning Tuesday within its report of a small quarterly pre-tax profit.