The future trading relationship between the UK and EU will not be discussed until December at the earliest, it now seems certain.
The European Parliament has decided it is "more than likely" that sufficient progress will not have been made in the Brexit talks by the time the European Council meet in October.
As a result, President Antonio Tajani has recommended that a debate on whether to push talks to the second stage, which would finally allow negotiators to move onto trade and a potential transitional deal, be postponed to its December meeting.
He said: "Given the current state of play of negotiations and the current position of the UK, it would seem very difficult that sufficient progress can be achieved by October on separation issues in order to enter phase two of the negotiations.
"In this case I would think it wise for the European Council to postpone this point to its December meeting."
This will put further pressure on Brexit secretary David Davis and his team to get a trade deal in time for businesses, many of whom have earmarked the year end as a cut-off point, after which they will begin triggering their contingency plans.