The European Union and the UK must hammer out an agreement shaping their post-Brexit relationship by early November, France's European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, urged on Sunday on FranceInfo radio.
Nevertheless, he emphasised that the EU bloc would not agree to a “bad deal” just to avoid a no-deal scenario.
"There needs to be an agreement in the coming weeks. That means around the beginning of November. We must not lose our calm in the final days of negotiations because that is sometimes when bad concessions are made," said the official.
Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the post-Brexit trade deal with French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone conversation on 10 October.
Though acknowledging that he would “explore every avenue” in negotiations with Brussels, Johnson pointed to remaining obstacles that were hampering progress. These tricky issues needed to be dealt with in the coming days, said the Prime Minister.
Hurdles in Post-Brexit Parley
There are a few particularly contentious issues in the talks between the UK and the EU.
With regard to fishing quotas, the EU wants its boats to enjoy access to UK fishing waters whereas the UK says its waters should be kept "first and foremost for British boats". Several EU members, such as France and the Netherlands, demanded the UK effectively remain part of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, meaning that three-quarters of fish stocks in the British maritime exclusive economic zone are caught by foreign boats.
Other stumbling blocks have been the issue of governance, and the so-called level playing field, a trade-policy term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country from gaining a competitive advantage over rivals in other countries.
It is these “hurdles” in negotiations that Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen instructed their chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier to “work intensively" on ironing out, during a phone call on 3 October.
Boris Johnson has set a deadline of 15 October, timed to an EU summit, for agreeing a deal, but Brussels has been angling for more concessions before entering the final phase of talks.
Johnson has repeatedly said that although he wants a deal like one struck between the EU and Canada, the UK was ready to leave without a deal.
"We're resolved on either course, we're prepared for either course and we'll make it work but it's very much up to our friends and partners," said Johnson.
The UK exited the EU in January, but remains under the present EU trade terms.
In the event that no trade deal is reached before the transition period expires on 31 December, the World Trade Organisation's rules for both sides come into effect from the start of 2021. This extends to customs tariffs and full border checks for UK goods entering the EU.