Avoiding a hard border in Ireland is a top priority for the EU, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator says.
Frenchman Michel Barnier, an ex-EU commissioner, told Irish parliamentarians that they had the full backing from Brussels.
“I want to reassure the Irish people in this negotiation that Ireland’s interest will be the Union’s interest. We are in this negotiation together and a united EU will be here for you.”
He added that Brexit should not put Northern Ireland’s peace settlement at risk.
Britain also opposes a hard border – i.e- new customs checks and security patrols – because of the impact such a barrier would have on the economies of both countries.
The EU’s Brexit negotiating guidelines promises “creative and imaginative solutions” to stop that happening.
He said nothing in the exit negotiations should put Northern Ireland’s peace settlement at risk.
Britain and the EU will start talks after the British election on June 8.