European Union
The European Commission has urged US tech companies Twitter, Facebook, Google's YouTube and Microsoft to hasten the crackdown on hate speech. Carl Court/Getty Images

It has been reported that the EU is preparing to begin trade talks between the continent and Britain, despite their chief negotiator suggesting on Thursday (12 October) that it was a long way from happening.

Michel Barnier talked from Brussels about how a "disturbing deadlock" had slowed down negotiations between the two sides.

The main sticking point appears to be the cost of the 'divorce bill', which caused Barnier to recommend EU leaders not to progress to the next stage of talks, which would focus on a post-Brexit trade agreement.

But a draft bill, seen by the BBC, suggests that the EU is in fact preparing to begin the trade talks amid concerns over a 'no deal' situation.

The documents, penned by the European Council president Donald Tusk, suggest that trade talks could begin in December, around the same time a key summit of EU leaders meets to possibly determine the future of the negotiations.

It is thought that the document could be seen as an incentive to the UK to back down on some of the sticking points that have slowed down the exit process so far.

The fifth round of talks were the last before the major EU summit in December. It is there that EU leaders will decide whether enough progress has been made to commence trade talks.

During Wednesday's PMQs, Theresa May indicated that she was still pushing for an exit at the end of March 2019.

Officials in Germany and Denmark have urged the EU to open trade talks with Britain to prevent the EU from hurting itself.

Anders Vistisen, a Danish Eurosceptic MEP and vice-chair of the EU Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said: "The most integral thing is the future relationship. If we are making a bad trade deal for Britain we are also hurting ourselves."