Talks between the European Union and the United Kingdom on a post-Brexit trade deal are in the "end phase", an EU official has said.
With both sides trying to reach an agreement before the end of the transition period next week, sources in Brussels and London have said a Brexit deal could be close.
There were suggestions earlier that an announcement could be made as early as Wednesday evening, but that deadline appears to be slipping.
Britain left the EU at the end of January and entered into an 11-month transition period, following EU rules and regulations whilst trying to negotiate a free trade deal by the end of this year.
The two teams have been attempting to thrash out an agreement ahead of that deadline, although negotiations have continued to remain stuck on a number of issues.
These include fishing rights and the so-called 'level playing field'- measures to prevent unfair competition through the lowering of standards or the use of state subsidies.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously claimed the UK would "prosper mightily" under a no-deal scenario.
But opponents say leaving without a deal, and consequently having to trade on World Trade Organisation terms from January 1st, would cause problems for business and push up prices for consumers.
'There has to be a settlement'
Earlier this month, Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said even if there is a trade deal, Ireland still faces 'huge differences, inconveniences and problems'.
"No matter what happens in these talks - whether it's deal or no deal - Brexit results in substantial changes to the UK's relationship, and particularly Great Britain's, relationship to Ireland in terms of trade.
"There are going to be huge differences, huge inconveniences and huge problems after the 1st of January even if we have a deal."
Minister Byrne said he hoped a deal would mean that there would be no tariffs on trading goods, "but there will still be customs checks, there will still be items you won't be able to import from Britain or items that we won't be able to export".
But he said there is no doubt that a trade deal "will generally have a better atmosphere that issues can be resolved if we do that".
While Ireland's EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has said no matter what happens between the EU and UK, there will need to be some type of agreement.
"Even if there is no agreement, the difficulty will be that in January sometime, or in early February, the UK and the European Union are going to have to talk about things", she said.
"Whether it's called a 'trade agreement' or whatever, there will be issues that we will need to resolve".
"So it doesn't go away: there has to be an agreement, there has to be a settlement".