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EU aims for December Brexit deal as talks yield no breakthrough

[BRUSSELS] European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier said no breakthrough was made in Brexit talks this week, but progress was made on citizens' rights and both sides are aiming for a deal in December.

Talks weren't expected to make much headway this week, as the UK has continued to resist calls for a better offer on the financial settlement.

That's holding back progress toward talks on the future trading relationship and the transition deal that businesses are crying out for.

"On the financial settlement, we need to work over the next few weeks on the objective undertakings of Mrs May in Florence," Mr Barnier said, referring to Prime Minister Theresa May's offer in September to honour financial obligations.

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"This if vital if we are to get sufficient progress."

As the Irish border issue was unexpectedly thrown back on the table this week, the prospect that a deal may be pushed back to March was raised for the first time.

Brexit Secretary David Davis described talks on that subject as "frank".

"I think a satisfactory deal will be reached at the very last minute," Polish European minister Konrad Szymanski, who met Mr Davis this week in Warsaw, told reporters on Friday in Brussels.

"It could be March but it would be better in December."

The issue of the Irish border, which had taken a back seat in recent months as the UK argued it would be easier to sort further down the line, came back on the agenda as a memo made clear that the EU has adopted almost wholesale Ireland's position.