As the Financial Times says, there have been attempts by Michel Barnier to find a device to provide comfort to Theresa May that the Northern Ireland backstop she hates would never be implemented.
This would be an extension by one year of the transition from 21 months to 33 months so that the UK would effectively remain inside the EU - though stripped of all voting rights and influence - till the end of 2021.
But I simply cannot see her agreeing to this, because it would be too close to the final date for the next election and maybe 100 plus of her MPs would go tonto with rage.
Also it is confirmation, if such were needed, of how difficult it is for Barnier to drop a solution for Northern Ireland that introduces trade barriers with Great Britain.
And even with a year's extension there is still a risk of that happening.
He needs that backstop, apart from anything else, because her preferred backstop of the whole UK staying in a single EU customs territory requires a treaty change whose execution is intrinsically uncertain.
So as I have said before, clashing UK and EU views of sovereign imperatives bring too great a risk of a no-deal Brexit.