Mixed signals were sent by Britain and the EU on the state of negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal Friday (December 4),
And there was even the threat of a veto from a French minister.
'Important day. Determination.'
Michel Barnier on his way to talks in London - in no mood to underplay the importance of Friday's talks.
The UK leaves its transition agreement with the EU on December 31, so time is short for a deal to be struck.
European Council President Charles Michel.
"But we are ready with all the possible options. We want a deal (but) not at any cost. This is not new. And we understand that for the European Union, the question of the level-playing field is key."
EU officials have told Reuters they believe a post-Brexit trade deal is 'imminent' - and could even happen as early as this weekend.
But talks hit a wall on Thursday, as London said chances of a breakthrough were receding.
British negotiators said the EU had disrupted talks late on Thursday by trying to force further concessions.
French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune also warned talks could fail, and said France could even 'veto' a deal if it wasn't good enough.
The contrasting tone leaves investors guessing whether a deal really is imminent, or if it could fall apart.
If it goes wrong, a 'no deal' would likely leave businesses coping with huge disruption.
With the clock ticking down, EU sources have said discussions are focused on the so-called "level playing field,"
Which means agreed principles on state aid and minimum labor and environmental standards,
As well as the "effective remedies" that each side could take in case of suspected infringements.