Time is running out for Brexit deal, EU tells Britain

Brexit

European Union diplomats warned Britain on Monday that time was fast running out for a Brexit deal, and that it may already be too late to ratify one, as negotiators in Brussels began a last-ditch attempt to avoid a tumultuous exit at the end of December.

Almost five years since the Brexit referendum campaign began, Britain and the EU have still not worked out how nearly $1 trillion in trade per year will operate once Britain leaves a status quo transition arrangement on Dec. 31.

Britain, which left the EU in January, called on the EU to show "more realism" if there was to be more progress in coming days.

Ireland, the EU nation most exposed to Brexit, said there were just days, or possibly weeks, left to find a way to unlock trade talks, while a senior EU official said there may no longer be time to put any trade deal agreed into force.

"It's getting terribly late and may be too late already," said the senior EU official, as talks between the bloc's negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, resumed in Brussels.

"They haven't quite reached where they had hoped to be," a second source, an EU diplomat, said.

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Pictures of the week: November 15 - 21
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Pictures of the week: November 15 - 21
People walk in the rain past Christmas decorations in central London on November 20, 2020, as life under a second lockdown continues in England. - The current lockdown in England has shuttered restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops and services until December 2, with hopes business could resume in time for Christmas. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
LEIGH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Manchester United goalkeeper Emily Ramsey celebrates with team mates Millie Turner and Jackie Groenen after winning the penalty shoot out at the FA Women's Continental League Cup match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village on November 19, 2020 in Leigh, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Visionhaus)
View of a closed exit on London Underground as one way system is adopted. Empty trains, Empty platforms and Empty tunnels on the London Underground as the Second Covid-19 Lockdown in England severely reduce travel in the capital. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People walk in the rain past Christmas decorations in central London on November 20, 2020, as life under a second lockdown continues in England. - The current lockdown in England has shuttered restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops and services until December 2, with hopes business could resume in time for Christmas. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Shoppers walk past black Friday sale posters in the centre of Cardiff where shops are open and people are out in numbers taking advantage of buying nonessential items in the run-up to Christmas. Restrictions across Wales have been relaxed following a two-week "firebreak" lockdown. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
PlayStation symbols are used on the Oxford Circus Tube station platforms. Signs at London's Oxford Circus Underground entrances have been transformed into Sony PlayStation Symbols and several Tube stations have been renamed for 48 hours to mark the launch of the new PlayStation 5. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A pedestrian walks past Christmas shop decorations in Mayfair during a second lockdown in London, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Businesses that have been forced to shut are hoping they will be able to reopen to salvage something of the crucial holiday shopping season. The government has been reluctant to say what restrictions will be in place for any particular area when the lockdown ends and says it's still too early to see how the lockdown has worked. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Runners kick up the ground as they round a bend at Wincanton Racecourse, southwest England, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. Many areas of England have suffered heavy rainfall over recent days. (Alan Crowhurst/PA via AP)
A christmas tree lines the route through the arcade. London's Luxury Shopping destination, the Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly, now has its usual high quality Christmas decorations on display, despite being in lockdown, none of its stores can currently be opened. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Specially designed artwork is unveiled at Lancaster Gate station, which has been transformed into Ratchet and Clankaster Gate to celebrate the UK launch of PlayStation 5, on Thursday, as PlayStation UK teams up with Transport for London for a 48-hour takeover.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks on the empty Millennium Bridge with City of London in the background. Most places and businesses have closed as the second month-long national lockdown takes hold in England. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Tottenham Hotspur team look on during the penalty shoot out during the FA Women's Continental League Cup match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Meadow Park on November 18, 2020 in Borehamwood, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
London Underground signs at Oxford Circus have been transformed into Sony PlayStation Symbols to celebrate the release of the brand new PlayStation 5 on the 19th of November 2020. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Vegetation grows between unused black cabs parked in a large area of farmland in Epping Forest, which is being rented by GB Taxi Services to store their large fleet of London taxis that are no longer being used due to a severe drop in demand as coronavirus restrictions continue to reduce travel and office working. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
People from Centre for Bio-ethical Reform UK (CBR UK), launching a new campaign focusing on Health Secretary Matt Hancock entitled #HancocksHealthcare outside Downing Street, London.
A queue of black cabs outside Victoria Station, London. London taxi drivers are facing long waits for a single fare after the industry has seen a severe drop in demand as coronavirus restrictions continue to reduce travel and office working. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Workers put up Christmas lights in George Square in Glasgow. Parts of the west of Scotland could move into Level 4 restrictions later this week, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to announce her decision later today. Under the toughest restrictions, non-essential shops will be closed, along with bars, restaurants, hairdressers and visitor attractions, whilst schools remain open (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Forestry England works supervisor Steve Orton works on a felled 43ft Sitka Spruce tree in Northumberland's Kielder Forest. The 30 year old spruce was selected from amongst the over 150 million trees in Kielder Forest to stand in Parliament Square, London, this Christmas. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Members of the public on Buchanan Street in Glasgow. Parts of the west of Scotland could move into Level 4 restrictions later this week, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to announce her decision later today. Under the toughest restrictions, non-essential shops will be closed, along with bars, restaurants, hairdressers and visitor attractions, whilst schools remain open (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 17, 2020 - A Christmas fairground is pictured in the process of being assembled outside Cardiff Castle ahead of its opening on Thursday 19th November. PHOTOGRAPH BY Mark Hawkins / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Mark Hawkins/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to make a statement on the coronavirus pandemic to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2020. Scotland's 11 of its 32 local authorities, including Glasgow, will be placed into its highest tier of coronavirus restrictions. The restrictions are set to run from Friday until Dec. 11. (Russell Cheyne/PA via AP)
Funeral director Andrew Atkins wears PPE as he disinfects a hearse at Full Circle Funerals in Bramley, Leeds, who works alongside funeral director Sarah Jones, who is preparing for a second wave of Covid-related deaths, and has used the experiences of professionals in the industry to create a guide to help support bereaved people. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Russia's Daniil Medvedev returns against Germany's Alexander Zverev in their men's singles round-robin match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 16, 2020. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
ESSEX - NOVEMBER 16: A sign displays social distancing measures on a train station platform on November 16, 2020 in Essex, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
A woman walks past a Hollister Store. (Photo by Michael McNerney / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
DUNFERMLINE, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 16: A grey squirrel sits on a tree root in Pittencrieff Park, on November 16, 2020 in Dunfermline, Scotland. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)
The Regent Street Christmas lights entitled 'The Spirit of Christmas' stand illuminated after being switched on yesterday without a ceremony as shops on the street lie temporarily closed due to England's second coronavirus lockdown, in London, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. This week saw Britain on Wednesday become the fifth country in the world to record more than 50,000 coronavirus-related deaths and on Thursday to record 33,470 people testing positive for COVID-19, the highest daily number of new cases since the virus first struck. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Brighton and Hove Albion's Felicity Gibbons, left, and West Ham United's Alisha Lehmann are caught in sunlight, competing for a header during their Women's Super League soccer match at Chigwell Construction Stadium, in London, Sunday Nov. 15, 2020. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)
CWMBRAN, WALES - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the early morning start at the Grange University Hospital, where the photographer works transporting non-emergency patients, on November 13, 2020 in Cwmbran, Wales. The £350m hospital will provide services including accident and emergency, intensive care and major surgery to patients living across Gwent and south Powys in South Wales. It has opened 4 months ahead of schedule, as the NHS faces a second wave of coronavirus cases. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies of Germany, in action against Croatia's Nikola Mektic and Netherland's Wesley Koolhof, during their doubles match on day one of the ATP Finals tennis championship at The O2 Arena, London, Sunday Nov. 15, 2020. (John Walton/PA via AP)
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Britain said there had been some progress and that the two sides had common draft treaty texts, though significant elements were yet to be agreed.

A "no deal" finale to the Brexit crisis would shock financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond - just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

BREXIT DEAL

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it could take another two weeks for an agreement to be struck, taking the talks close to the Dec. 31 hard deadline.

"We are more likely to get a deal than not, purely because the consequences of not getting a deal are so significant and so costly for the UK and Ireland as it happens, and for some other EU countries," Coveney told an online conference.

There has so far been little movement on the most contentious areas - so-called "level playing field" fair competition rules and fisheries.

In London, meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was self-isolating in a flat in his Downing Street residence after he had contact with a British lawmaker who later tested positive for COVID-19.

His most powerful adviser, arch-Brexiteer Dominic Cummings, was ejected on Friday after a battle between rival factions in the government.

"We may not succeed," Frost said on Sunday. "We are working to get a deal, but the only one that's possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters." (This story has been corrected to change billion to trillion in second paragraph)

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