Negotiators will need “new energy” for last-ditch talks on a free trade accord between the European Union and Latin America’s Mercosur customs union.
Both sides doubt they will get it by an October 31 deadline.
After that a new European team will take over.
The negotiations in Lisbon will be among the last jobs for trade and farm officials in the Prodi Commission.
For five years, they have been pursuing a pact which would boost trade between the EU and Mercosur’s Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The four want Europe to open its market to farm goods while the EU wants better access for its industrial goods.
Mercosur also wants rules eased to allow its professionals to work in the 25 EU states.