The European Union has urged member countries and businesses to "step up preparations" in case EU-British negotiations fail to produce a deal for Britain's exit from the bloc.

"Today's text calls on member states and private parties to step up preparations" for all outcomes by a March 30 deadline, the European Commission said.

"There is still no certainty that there will be a ratified withdrawal agreement in place on that date," it said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson has said that progress Britain has made in Brexit talks suggests that the country will not crash out of the bloc without a deal.

"On 'no deal', we have always said that that isn't something we want or hope for, and the progress of talks so far suggests that is not where we will end up," the spokeswoman told reporters this morning.


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The 16-page document, released in Brussels, states: "While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK's withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption - for example in business supply chains - whether or not there is a deal.

"As there is still no certainty that there will be a ratified withdrawal agreement in place on that date, or what it will entail, preparations have been ongoing to try to ensure that the EU institutions, member states and private parties are prepared for the UK's withdrawal.

"And in any event, even if an agreement is reached, the UK will no longer be a member state after withdrawal and will no longer enjoy the same benefits as a member. Therefore, preparing for the UK becoming a third country is of paramount importance, even in the case of a deal between the EU and the UK.

"Having said that, preparing for the UK's withdrawal is not only the responsibility of the EU institutions. It is a joint effort at EU, national and regional levels, and also includes in particular economic operators and other private parties - everyone must now step up preparations for all scenarios and take responsibility for their specific situation."

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty has said the Government is moving up a gear in terms of preparations for Brexit as we are coming to the final stages of the negotiations.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Doherty said the Government is preparing for all scenarios but remains focused on working towards the most favourable outcome.

She said while there was political manoeuvring going on in the UK, the real action was happening in Brussels.