EU, UK moving ‘closer and closer to a deal’

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    BRUSSELS- Britain and the EU are closer to agreement on reciprocal social security rights for their citizens after Brexit, two diplomatic sources said, with one describing talks last week on an elusive trade deal as “one of the most positive so far”.

    The European Union diplomats said Brussels was now gearing up to negotiate until as late as mid-November – rather than cutting talks off at the start of next month – to avoid a damaging “no-deal” scenario when Britain’s standstill transition with the bloc ends on Dec. 31.

    There was no breakthrough in last week’s negotiations on the three most contentious issues – fisheries, fair competition guarantees and ways to settle future disputes – but the prospects of an overall accord looked brighter.

    “We seem to be getting closer and closer to a deal, even though the no-deal rhetoric in public might suggest the opposite,” said one of the two sources, both of whom were briefed by the executive European Commission, which is negotiating with Britain on behalf of the 27-nation EU.

    Sterling cut losses vs the euro on Tuesday after the report, holding near to $1.30.

    The sources spoke ahead of further talks on Wednesday-Friday in London with Britain, which left the EU in January after nearly half a century of membership.

    At stake is an estimated trillion euros worth of bilateral trade. Investors and businesses are increasingly anxious about a split with no agreement to ensure the continuation of trade without tariffs or quotas.