Brexit trade deal 'likely' with talks at 'very serious zone', says senior European minister

David Frost will meet with Michel Barnier in Brussels to continue talks on Thursday.
David Frost will meet with Michel Barnier in Brussels to continue talks on Thursday. Credit: AP

A Brexit deal is looking "likely", with talks at a "very serious zone of negotiation", a senior European minister has said.

But Simon Coveney, Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister, added how it "won't be easy" for the European Union and the United Kingdom to reach an agreement.

He said he was "under no illusion of the challenges" facing negotiators in the next 10 days to two weeks trying to come to agreement, which he said was the "realistic" timeline now "to complete this".

"We're likely to get a deal but it won't be easy," Mr Coveney told an Irish Farmers Journal webinar.

It comes as trade talks between the EU and UK prepare to shift to Brussels - a move that provides the faintest signal that negotiations may be making some progress.

Simon Coveney, formerly Ireland's deputy premier, believes a Brexit trade deal with the UK is 'likely'. Credit: PA

Talks between the two sides collapsed more than a week ago following months of deadlock, with the UK's chief negotiator telling his EU counterpart not to bother travelling to London for anymore discussions on a trade deal because there was "no basis for negotiations".

But Michel Barnier managed to get the UK back around the negotiating table by saying he would "intensify" talks and both sides have been meeting in London since the process restarted last week .

In a sign enough progress is being made to at least allow talks to continue, the UK team - led by Lord David Frost - will meet Mr Barnier's team in the Belgian capital to continue their discussions on Thursday.

European Commission spokesman Dan Ferrie told reporters: "I can confirm that negotiations are ongoing in London right now, they will run until tomorrow and then they will take place here in Brussels, as of Thursday."

He would not be drawn on the status of the negotiations but said both sides are "engaging intensively" to reach a deal.

Mr Barnier, arriving in London on Tuesday to continue talks, did not comment when asked about the state of negotiations.

On Monday, Downing Street warned "time is very short" to bridge the "significant" gaps between the UK and EU.

The current transition arrangements expire at the end of the year and a deal will need to be reached within weeks in order for it to be ratified by then.

The main obstacles to a deal have been rows over fishing rights,the so-called "level playing field" rules to ensure fair competition and governance arrangements for any agreement.