Expectations are high going into next week's European summit after the EU's Brexit negotiator said a deal is "within reach." But, the message from Brussels is still that "there is no breakthrough yet."
Brexit negotiators are working "day and night" to carve out a deal that will allow them to move forward with the process. In the best-case scenario, technical teams will manage to make "decisive progress" at the start of next week, paving the way for a successful European summit on Wednesday.
European leaders gathering in Brussels Wednesday will hear from Prime Minister Theresa May and decide whether there is room to complete the so-called Withdrawal Agreement — the plan outlining how the U.K. will leave the EU in March of next year. If that's the case, the EU will announce next week a new date for an emergency summit, sometime in mid-November.
"What I can say from our side, today, Thursday the 21th of October is that we are not there yet, there is no breakthrough yet. Intensive technical negotiations are continuing to see if we can reach the decisive progress we were referring to yesterday," Margaritis Schinas, a spokesperson for the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.
He added: "We are working hard to reach a deal."
The main stumbling block remains the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
"Northern Ireland is still the big issue," an EU official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks, told CNBC over the phone.
"We don't have to agree now on the full mechanism, we can draw a solution in the coming years, but we need to agree now on the backstop," the official said.