Fresh talks aiming to secure a deal solving the issues in Northern Ireland created by Brexit are to be held in Brussels as negotiations draw out.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris will attend talks in Belgium on Thursday, but British government sources downplayed the chances of an agreement being struck this week.
UK foreign secretary James Cleverly will not join the talks and is instead heading to New York for a United Nations meeting on Ukraine.
Time was running out for a deal to be struck on Thursday and no announcement is expected to come on Friday, as it marks a year since Russia began its all-out assault on Ukraine.
European Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie said: “We continue our work with our UK counterparts, we’re working hard to find joint solutions.
“Our exchanges are ongoing. I can confirm that vice-president [Maros] Sefcovic will meet here in Brussels Chris Heaton-Harris later this afternoon.”
British prime minister Rishi Sunak, however, faces potential pushback from the DUP and Brexit hardliners in the Tory party.
Asked about the concerns, EU spokesman Eric Mamer said: “We of course understand this is a sensitive issue, it has been since the beginning, this is also precisely why we’ve had all these conversations.”