EU official raises doubts about Brexit talks progress

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, left, and British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis arrive for a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A senior European Union official is doubtful that Britain’s talks on leaving the EU can advance to a new phase next month, fueling concern that a Brexit deal might not be found by the 2019 deadline.

EU leaders meet Oct. 19-20 and were expected to assess whether negotiations have made “sufficient progress” on Britain’s departure for talks on future relations and trade to begin.

But a senior EU official said Thursday that “it’s too early to tell” whether the leaders can decide. The official briefed reporters only on condition that she not be named.

She affirmed that the October summit is not a deadline, saying “we all know that negotiations don’t usually go according to our time plan, so we will take all the time needed.”